If you are among the believers, the long awaited marriage of Internet and TV has picked a wedding date and is sending out invitations. Google has announced what at first appears to be cutting edge technology that will allow viewers to enjoy movies and TV shows without being at the mercy of either broadcast networks or cable monopolies.
The idea is that by combining Google’s search expertise and technology with making your TV browser-enabled, an entire cornucopia of viewing choices via regular TV and cable programming along with Amazon, Youtube and Hulu for instance, will be at your fingertips (on your keyboard). In other words, wherever there is content, Google will empower you to access it. Seems simple enough on the surface. And making content more conveniently available to viewers should increase advertising revenues and make content owners like the TV broadcast networks and Hollywood studios happy, right?
In reality, this is rather complex in terms of copyrights, revenue and technology. Copyrights and revenue models are the greater issue. Google is reportedly having some difficulty getting the major TV networks to jump on the Googlewagon. And Hollywood is not exactly tap dancing with joy either. Good. If the Paleolithic Powerbrokers of TV and Hollywood are fearful of something, it must be good. The Internet took down antiquated music models and newspapers that refused to adapt, it will do the same to other media if they do not acknowledge that people consume media differently now than even in the recent past, that the old models of distribution and communications are not serving the consumer as the consumer expects to be served.
Technology provides another, albeit, more rational challenge. The Google TV model requires either a Google-enable TV or Google set-top box. Nothing technically cutting edge about that, rather antiquated and inconvenient in fact. It also requires a keyboard (can you say WebTV?), but your iPhone or Android can serve as one. Challenges are in terms of adoption and distribution of equipment, but not the least bit insurmountable.
None of this may seem all that cool or interesting for many techies. But for advertising executives, especially online advertising executives, this is interesting indeed. Google Search, combined with convenient and widespread content viewing, opens up another avenue for generating revenue due to evolutionary targeting capability. The more targeted an ad, the more an advertiser is willing to pay for it. When Google TV becomes a reality, and it most likely will, viewers may never see an ad for a product or service that does not interest them, theoretically that is. Why do you ignore most TV commercials now? There is no need to list those reasons here, you created your own list almost as quickly as you read that sentence. Increased targeting should be able to bring you ads as targeted as anything online, far from perfect but still, better than current broadcast practices.
There you have it, Google TV may, or may not be the marriage of Internet and TV we have spoken of for over a decade, consumers may or may not be willing with V1.0 to add hardware, advertisers will test it quickly and what is left of the broadcast and Hollywood entertainment industry will get there only after much kicking, screaming and some high profile failures.