The search giant is quizzing traditional programmers about possible licensing terms — just as Intel, Sony and Apple have — The Wall Street Journal says citing “people familiar with the matter.” Google has even demonstrated its planned service, says one witness. But the company is running into the same problems that other tech providers face: Content owners continue to offer their best prices to existing cable and satellite services, which would make it difficult — possibly impossible — for an Internet rival to be competitive. The story notes that Google, and other potential online TV services, likely would have to offer the same bundles of channels that consumers have to order from cable and satellite. The tech companies hope that they can win customers by providing a slick user interface — but at the recent National Cable Show several operators including Comcast demonstrated big advancements in the look of their services. Google owns YouTube and has cable-like broadband and TV systems in Kansas City, with plans to expand to Austin, Tex. and Provo, Utah.
Dish Network is looking to make a splash at this week’s 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — but one announcement, which leaked out prematurely, could raise the ire of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Tech trade publications Dealerscope and TWICE broke news embargos tied to Dish’s press conference later today regarding a multi-room DVR called Hopper: It will have three tuners and a huge storage capacity of 2 terabytes. Hopper will make it possible for users to stop watching a recoded show in one room and resume where they left off in another, reports blogger Dave Zatz, who saw a posting of the TWICE article before it was taken down, and Multichannel News, which caught the one yanked from Dealerscope. But it also includes a feature called Primetime Anytime that will automatically record primetime broadcasts from local stations for ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC and retain those shows for a week — in effect turning Hopper into into a catch-up VOD service. Broadcasters have been licensing catch-up rights to Hulu and cable VOD. The TWICE article also notes that Dish is dropping the word “Network” from its name as it focuses more on technology.
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was the keynote speaker at the Edinburgh International TV Festival as he substituted for Shine Group founder Elisabeth Murdoch. During Friday’s MacTaggart Lecture (transcript below), given for the first time by a television industry outsider, Schmidt said Google TV plans to launch in Europe early next year, with the UK a top priority. Many more partners are expected to join the fledgling TV service soon, Schmidt said, and the company is ”absolutely committed” to its fledgling small tube business which allows viewers to mix web and television content on TV screens via a browser. He said U.S. networks who balked at Google TV earlier this year still aren’t on board, and he hopes the service won’t face a similar problem in Europe. In his keynote, Schmidt also named three trends to watch: mobile, local, and social — a nod to Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility as well as a desire to personalize TV content and services. “Soon, your typical Internet users won’t be indoors with a PC; they’ll be out and about on their cell phone,” Schmidt said. “Reflecting this, new genres of online content and services are emerging. If content is king, context is its crown. … And if you think all this is exciting, or frightening, remember, this is only the beginning. In technological terms, we’re scarcely at the end of the first act of the Internet age.” Below is the transcript of Schmidt’s speech:
I understand this is the first time the MacTaggart has been given by someone not employed in Television broadcasting or production. I’m not sure whether that means the bar has been raised or lowered, but I’ll do my best!
It’s a huge honour to be invited to speak on such a prestigious occasion, especially as an industry outsider. When he spoke here two years ago, James Murdoch described himself as the crazy relative everyone is embarrassed by. I wonder what he’d call himself now. If James is the family outcast, I’m not sure what that makes me. The geek in the corner?… the alien species?… the Android? Don’t worry though, I promise I’m not a croak-voiced dalek.
Charles Allen called the MacTaggart ‘the longest job application in the industry’. It’s very kind of you to think of me, but I’m still fully committed to Google. All that’s changed is that Larry now has the keys to the Google Tardis. I promise I’ll stop the Dr Who quips soon – although in this case it is pretty apt. We have a private joke at Google that Larry is actually from the future.
I’m especially indebted to Mark Thompson – who gave last year’s lecture – for his tips on what makes a classic MacTaggart. The recipe boils down to anger and arch-villains, impossible proposals and insults. I’m not sure about anger, but I’ll do my best to come up with the rest.
Mark even identified candidates for demonising – usually a choice between the BBC and Murdoch. I must say how refreshing it is that Google isn’t on that list!
But I don’t kid myself – I know some of you have suspicions about Google. Some of you blame us for the havoc wreaked on your business by the Internet. Some accuse us of being irresponsible, uncaring, and worse.
Today I’ll aim to set the record straight on those points, and demonstrate why we can and should be optimistic about Television’s future, if we work together. But first, a little about my industry.
Peter Fincham said this lecture is the closest most TV people get to going to church. Well, I am a tech evangelist from way back, so I’ll take any excuse to preach about the Internet.
Why the Internet matters
In less than 30 years, the Internet has grown from almost nothing to more than 2 billion users. It’s available on Mount Everest, and on the South Pole. Half of adults in the EU use it every day. It has become such a profound part of life that 4 in 5 adults worldwide now regard Internet access as a fundamental human right.
Google To Become Mobile Handset Power With $12.5B Deal For Motorola Mobility
We can only imagine the look on Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt’s face when he learned that Google agreed to pay $12.5B for Motorola Mobility. But I doubt it was a smile. The Google news didn’t simply bury TWC’s announcement today that it will pay $3B to buy Insight Communications, which includes 750,000 cable customers many of whom live in rural areas in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Executives at the highest levels of the business say that Britt reaffirmed his commitment to cable just as Google raised new questions about the prospects for pay TV. The Web giant is about to become a major force in the industry: Motorola Mobility and Cisco are pretty much a duopoly as suppliers of cable set top boxes and the software that operators use to serve them. And Google very much wants to mix Web video with traditional cable channels — a thought that petrifies many operators and programmers. The company is trying to blend the distribution channels in its Google TV service, which has mostly left consumers cold. But that could change. Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang says that Google has “a significant opportunity” to capitalize “not only (on) its Google TV platform, but also its ownership of YouTube.” No wonder Matthew Polka of the American Cable Association, a trade group that mostly serves small pay TV companies, says his members “will want assurances from Google that it is both committed to the cable business model and won’t use its market power to run roughshod over smaller cable operators.”