Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Google TV - So What? The Distributors Have All The Control

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 20, 2010

I can't get excited by Google TV because no matter how fine the box is, no matter how great the wired and wireless connectivity, or the user interface, at the end of the day it's all about how good is the content and not about how good is the box.

Who controls the best content? It's the distributors. It's the major TV and cable channels.

Do people rave about how great their TV is? They rave about "Lost," "American Idol," they rave about content first. The geek community is the only community that raves about the specs of a box. That will only get you to "on" then what?

Take a look at what happened at Hulu, the Comedy Channel pulled its popular The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. There's still plenty of content on Hulu, but it's long tail stuff, old reruns of once popular shows, etc.

You can now watch HBO online, but only if you are a cable TV subscriber.

The organizations that control distribution control where it can be seen and they can change their preferences whenever they want, it has nothing to do with the box. Even Hulu controls where it can be seen, we've seen the problems Boxee had with Hulu.

The distributors control what you can and cannot watch online.

This is why Apple has described Apple TV as a "hobby" because it's a limited platform, it's limited to what you have on your computer or that can be downloaded from iTunes.

Will things change? It would be great if everything were online, everything ever created, every film, every TV show, everything we see on cable TV could be just an IP address away from our couch.

But that would be incredibly disruptive since we would only pay for what we wanted and nothing else. We wouldn't be subsidizing sports channels, for example, if we never watch sports.

Pick-and-watch would dramatically lower our bills it would be disruptive. And that's why we won't get to that utopian world because the TV and cable distributors don't want to be disrupted. And who can blame them? I certainly don't like the way that the newspaper industry is being disrupted but I'm not in a position to do much about it -- they are.

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Here is a Pearltree about Google TV - you can explore what others have said and Google's official announcement.


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