The delicate dance between content
providers and online companies wishing to distribute that content ratcheted up
this week with an Oct. 22 headline in the Wall
Street Journal declaring: "Networks Block Web Programming from Being Viewed
on Google TV."
Multiple media outlets picked up the
story. But somewhat lost in the aggregation was the fact that ABC, CBS and NBC,
the specific "networks" referred to in the Journal
headline, are in talks with Google for a workable solution to long-form content
access on Google's Web-based TV. Google along with Sony and Logitech only began
rolling out Google TV this month. And NBC introduced a Google TV app for
business news channel CNBC.
Spokespeople for ABC, CBS and NBC
confirmed that they have not made episodes of their long-form content available
for Google's searchable Web-based TV.
But all three networks are in ongoing
negotiations, say sources.
NBC released a statement pointing to
its ongoing cooperation with various media companies: "From NBC.com to playing
a central role in the development of Hulu, and striking key deals with Apple,
Amazon, Netflix and a host of other services, NBCU has a long history as a
leader in online distribution. We've had discussions with Google, and have
partnered with them on a CNBC app, but like many other content providers we're
still evaluating their new platform in regards to other content."
Last summer, Google began pitching
networks to optimize their Websites to work with Google TV. Some networks
including Time Warner's HBO and Turner Broadcasting networks have revamped to
make their shows available on Google TV. Fox is not blocking their shows from
Google TV as the two companies continue to work out a deal.
"We're in the early phases of Google TV and already have strong partnerships with Best Buy, Logitech and Sony, among others," a Google spokesperson said in an email to B&C Friday. "We are excited about the opportunities our new platform creates for both established media companies like Turner and HBO, and tens of thousands of content creators large and small. Google TV enables access to all the web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owner's choice to restrict users from accessing their content on the platform."
Hulu, which is owned by Disney, NBC
Universal and News Corp., also blocks its videos from Google TV, though Hulu
and Google are in talks to make Hulu's subscription service available.
At stake for the networks is the potential
cannibalizing effect of true searchable Web-based TV without commensurate
monetization potential. Piracy is also an issue as the networks evaluate
whether to make their content available over the Google TV platform.
And while users are watching more video
online - last month alone 175 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of
14.4 million hours of online video - the vast majority of long-form scripted
entertainment is consumed the old-fashioned way: on the couch in front of the