Google announces TV deals with HBO, Netflix, Pandora and the NBA are just a few of the big-name brands teaming up with Google for the rollout of Google TV.They will allow on-demand viewing or build apps for TV screens.
The web giant’s “multimillion-channel TV” system is expected to launch some time this fall. Run by Google’s Android operating system, it will let users view all kinds of Web content on their televisions.
The partnerships were announced Monday on Google’s official blog.
James L. McQuivey, a principal analyst at Forrester, the technology research firm, called the partnerships “underwhelming.” Still, he said, other Google TV features, like the ability to search the Web for information about an actor or chat with friends on Twitter while watching TV, are more important to its success.
“They don’t actually need content partners to start their little revolution,” he said. “They don’t need the major broadcasters to play along because they can do a lot of cool things with you as a viewer without having to share any of the money.”
Google TV is the latest and most prominent service to connect TVs to the Web, promising to make all the living room’s audio and video as searchable and instantly accessible as the Internet’s content. That promise requires significant cooperation from media companies, and many have been reluctant to help.
With Google TV, the company wants to be a leader in the budding industry of Internet-connected television sets, which Forrester expects to be in 43 million United States homes by 2015, up from two million this year.
The Google TV technology, which was announced in May and will be available to consumers in the coming weeks, will be built into new Sony high-definition televisions and Blu-ray players, and into a Logitech set-top box that viewers can use with their existing sets. Google will make its software available to other makers of TVs and set-top boxes. The companies have not yet said how much the equipment would cost.
Logitech is building a remote control for searching the TV and the Web, and viewers can also use their Android phones or iPhones as a remote control and “fling” a video they are watching on their phones to the television.
Google TV has been in talks with the major networks and Hollywood studios about optimizing their Web sites for TV screens and about obtaining data about their programs for search purposes. But one executive described the relationship between Google and the networks as being at the “first date” stage.
According to executives involved, some networks want Google to share revenue from the ads that it overlays on videos. Some want Google to weed out illegal Internet sources of their shows and make sure that their marquee programs still stand out on a service that potentially levels the playing field for all makers of video.
The executives insisted on anonymity because the networks uniformly declined on Monday to comment on Google TV, and because they did not want to perturb a company as big as Google.
One of Google TV’s deals is with Turner Broadcasting, which owns TBS, TNT and other cable channels. Turner said it would optimize the Web sites of its channels for big-screen viewing.
Other partnerships include NBC Universal, which plans CNBC Real Time, an application that tracks stocks, and Twitter, which will let users post to the microblogging site as they’re watching a show.
HBO, also owned by Time Warner, will offer more than 600 hours of programming optimized for Google TV. The NBA has built NBA Game Time, which will give real-time score updates and highlights.
Google joins fellow tech giant Apple in making preholiday season moves into the world of television. While online entertainment has emerged as a viable option through sites such as YouTube and Hulu, there are still significantly more television viewers than Web users worldwide.
Music sites such as VEVO, Pandora and Napster are building apps for the platform, as are Amazon Video on Demand, The New York Times and USA Today.