Online Entertainment

Google TV Sweetens Its Fall Lineup

Google has announced more content providers for Google TV, which itintroduced in May. While many of Google TV’s content partners are major names — HBO, TNT, CNN — the three major networks, ABC, NBC and CBS, are so far not part of the mix.

Turner Broadcasting is optimizing websites for viewing on Google TV, including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim. NBC Universal will deliver CNBC Real-Time, an application that allows users to track stocks and access news feeds while receiving financial news.

HBO will bring access to hundreds of hours of programming with HBOGO. Subscribers will be able to access HBO content on-demand via an enhanced website. NBA has built NBA Game Time, an application that lets viewers follow game scores in real-time and catch up on highlights.

In addition to offering content from traditional TV providers, Google TV includes the Google Chrome browser and access to the entire internet. Users will be able to view TV shows and movies on-demand through Amazon Video On Demand and Netflix. They will also be able to watch Web videos, play Flash games, read movie reviews, access email and social networking — all on the TV.

Couch potatoes are going to have to sit up and try not to spill beer on the keyboard.

Here Come the Web TV Devices

The first Google TV devices will become available this month, including a set-top device from Logitech and Blu-ray players from Sony.

Apple has its own Apple TV, of course, a US$99 device that allows users to download movies and shows to their TVs from Apple’s iTunes. It offers less content than its Google rival because of the reluctance by major media companies to pay high commissions on revenue earned through Apple’s service.

Google has of an off-the-line advantage in casting its TV net across the entire internet, while Apple’s offering is limited by comparison.

“Apple TV is slightly more constrained than Google TV,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

The differences between the offerings are more than slight, according to Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC.

“Google TV is in stark contrast to what Apple TV is doing,” DiDio told TechNewsWorld. “Apple says they will provide only a limited part of the Web.”

Still, Apple and Google both bring considerable resources and brand acceptance to their stab at Web TV.

“Apple and Google are two powerful companies, but I might give Apple the edge because of the strength of the brand and because they’re on so many consumer devices,” said DiDio . “Yet Google is there with Android. It’s certainly going to be a horse race.”

Networks Sitting Out

The major TV networks are passing on the initial launch of Web TV. Much of their content will be available at their websites, but they are not partnering with Google except in the smallest possible way — say with CNBC.

“The networks don’t want to sacrifice their revenue streams until they’re sure it’s going to work out,” said Enderle.

Google comes to the content world with less clout than it brings to the tech industry.

“I think they will have a harder time taking over TV they way they dominated search,” said DiDio. “They will be fighting with established content providers who will say, ‘Not so fast, Google. You’re going to have to go through us.'”

Will Viewers Climb On Board?

One of the possibilities of Web TV is the ability to turn off the ever-growing cable and satellite bills. Young people are early adopters. They’ve been driving the digital music business, so they’re likely to embrace Web TV quickly.

“An awful lot of young folks are already turning off their cable and turning on Hulu,” said Enderle.

There is a certain inevitability to Web TV. Viewers always respond to expanded content. The ability to check Internet apps while watching TV is a convenience. Already a large portion of viewers have the TV on while they’re using the computer or the smartphone.

“Twenty years from now, we’ll look back and wonder how we got by without Web TV,” said Enderle.

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