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Networks block Google TV's Web access to protect themselves

The three major broadcast networks, uneasy over viewers bypassing cable and satellite providers -- and the networks' own websites -- to watch their TV shows, have begun blocking a new service from Google Inc. that aims to make it easier for people to watch programming online.

ABC, CBS and NBC confirmed that this week they began blocking Google TV from accessing full-length episodes of prime-time shows such as "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Parks & Recreation," a move aimed at forestalling the technology giant's entry into the living room.

Google TV seeks to marry the Internet with television by enabling viewers to search the Web for shows and then watch them on their TV sets. The technology is designed to make it easier for people to watch TV shows when they want, rather than at the mercy of network schedules or sift through the web to find shows on the networks' own websites.

But the networks worry that providing consumers with direct access –- via the Internet -– to popular shows would undercut the economics that support the industry. The networks fear, among other things, that Google TV could disrupt advertising and encourage people to discontinue their cable TV service. Cable providers pay billions in fees to carry the programming of their co-owned cable channels.

Others have cited fears that Google TV would fuel piracy by letting viewers access bootleg streams of TV shows on the Internet.

"Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "But it is ultimately the content owner's choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform."

Google continues to pursue talks with the networks and is in active discussions with Hulu about bringing the Hulu Plus subscription service to the platform. That would give Google TV users access to full-length episodes of shows from ABC, Fox and NBC.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said that blocking access to network shows on Google TV wouldn't stop people from watching shows online because simple workarounds -- such as hooking up a laptop to the TV set -- can accomplish the same thing.

"This doesn’t stop people from watching online content on their televisions," McQuivey said. "It just frustrates them."

Some content providers have sought to work with Google. Time Warner Inc. plans to offer HBO Go -- which allows people who already pay for HBO on cable or satellite to watch shows online -- through Google TV.

Time Warner executives say cable operators have historically done a poor job helping viewers navigate hundreds of channels of shows and movies. Google TV could provide a service by expeditiously producing a list of sites where viewers could see their favorite shows.

 -- Dawn C. Chmielewski, Jessica Guynn and Meg James

Comments () | Archives (3)

Blocking Google TV is idiotic. The old model is broken, embrace the new, better delivery platforms and get on board before it's too late.

So.. it's fine to watch their content in internet explorer, firefox, opera, chrome or any other web browser. Just not when the browser is google tv...

so much for equal rights, fair competition and rational thinking

If they have any web revenue model for their current web content, it can be directly applied to google tv, Right now... So what's the real problem?

If the fear is that people are watching their shows online, why put them them online? This whole thing doesn't make any sense. It just feels like browser discrimination.

You know .. from a business perspective I actually understand this. The networks don't want the television industry to become the music industry. In the music industry, the internet and the ease of downloading music is making record labels obsolete. Something like only 10% of all music sales come from actual physical cd's. But, where the record lables can shift focus to things like concert sales and merchandising, TV networks don't have that same ease. They have to make money selling advertisements or they don't make money and can't produce the tv shows we love. If people can go to Google TV then Google TV is getting their ad money.

Now, as a consumer of course we want everything easier, quicker, and cheaper. But in the music industry, the fact that no one actually buys an album anymore has effected the quality of albums produced. Rather than make an album people are making a collection of singles that can be downloaded individually. Very few albums come out that actually make sense and have a flow from start to finish. Will the change in the industry model in TV have a similar effect on the quality for TV shows? I dunno


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