Google’s television strategy

So Google bought a company not too long ago and the purchase is part of their mobile strategy. If Apple can become a hardware vendor and device maven, why then can’t Google become a platform both for the internets and your mobile phone.

Imagine if sometime in the next few years instead of talking about whether your phone is a Blackberry or Palm or Windows phone, you’re touting all the Google apps your Google phone has. Basically, Google is getting meta and figuring that if they have all the cool tools you’re using now and that you’ll use in the future, they’re betting you’ll love an OS built around those things.

Ok, so imagine that Comcast goes to Google and says “We love your stuff, you should really be in the set-top box business, think of what you could do for television!” And Google listens because they’ve got major investments in video through YouTube and Google Video but also in their EchoStar partnership. Comcast wants to beat Dish Network to the punch, especially since Dish has it’s own DVR system and Comcast has been slow to roll out it’s partnership with TiVo (but that’s OK since cable operators have shitty DVRs, like Moxi and such).

So Google figures out how to use their search algorithm and AdWords platform within cable television. (It’d be a lot easier to do over FiOS or some other switched infrastructure like IPTV from AT&T, but let’s say Comcast can pull it off.)

The Google box operates both on search (similar to existing on-screen guides) but also on clicks. If most people choose to watch a network in your node (neighborhood, city, state) that channel appears higher in results. Channels and numbers would be fluid, eliminating the jockeying that goes on for higher position (which actually does impact viewership, it’s been shown). Think of all televised content as nothing more than data to be searched and ordered and you get the drift.

Additionally, your television ties into the internet in a couple of key ways. First, you can share the data of your shows (name, description, actors, etc) with your friends, like a del.icio.us for what you watch. Comcast will let you view the shows via a branded portal site, essentially making your set-top box a Slingbox as well. You’ll also be able to remotely schedule shows, see additional content (behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, interviews) from the official network sites and fan reactions/mash-ups and such, just like it appears on YouTube et al. The whole thing would look like the windowed, squeeze-back video experience you see on the satellite boxes when the guide is on-screen.

Lastly, Google would be helping Comcast sell ads just like they do for EchoStar, only now they’re selling text ads and display ads on the interface in addition to the bidding marketplace for the video ads in programming time.

Sounds like a far-fetched scenario, right? I wouldn’t bet on it. If any player is positioned to take advantage of the internet, television and search as a platform (all three combined) it’s Google.

You heard it here first.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have no idea what plans Google, AT&T, EchoStar or Comcast have. This post is pure speculation. Semi-informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless.

UPDATE: Fixed some grammar and punctuation for readability.

2 thoughts on “Google’s television strategy

  1. Drew says:

    It doesn’t sound far-fetched at all, especially in light of Google’s incredibly rapid expansion into new business areas and subtle infiltration of more and more of our culture.

    Something I’ve been thinking about after reading your post: if television continues down this path and becomes an entirely on-demand experience, what would the long-term effects be on development of new content? I’m not talking about user generated, You-Tube style content, but the more heavily financed and professionally managed development. Given the costs typically associated with developing a new television show (non-reality genre) in the current model, would we see networks even less willing to take chances with their new content? Also, in the current format many new shoes are positioned in time slots that will bring in carry-over viewers in order to jump start ratings. On-demand means less opportunity to expose new programs to a pre-existing audience.

    Disclosure: I have no active role working in media, this is simply uninformed speculation in response to semi-informed speculation.

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