Now the big four nets blocking content to Google TV


At first it was just Disney, NBC and CBS blocking Google TV. Now we can add Fox and ABC to the list—at least for their most popular shows. Heck, Hulu has also blocked people from watching full-length shows on their web sites via Google TV. Google TV still offers the internet in general, but the goal is to be able to also offer a smart viewing and programming search guide to boot. But if you can’t view major shows from the most popular networks, it could sure be a hindrance to public acceptance and adoption. Time Warner’s HBO premium channel, TNT and TBS are among the networks that still let customers who already have pay-TV subscriptions watch their shows over Google TV.

Google TV also offers a lot of other functionality — the internet, YouTube videos, monitoring while watching the game and writing Twitter posts about shows on the same screen displaying the show. But bottom line, Google’s drive to capitalize on bringing internet to living-room TVs and provide another source of ad sales is hobbled – at least for now. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves and News Corp COO Chase Carey have said that after months of talks they’re in no hurry to let Google TV – or other outside web services — offer their shows for free. “They say there have been no lucrative offers and they aren’t sure of the search company’s intentions,” said a Bloomberg story.

Of course, there has to be a deal – why should the networks risk losing live or delayed ad revenue from ratings placed elsewhere? Primetime shows seen over the Internet have about four minutes of ads per hour, compared with 16 minutes on broadcast. That suggests networks lose about 75% of sales per viewer when programs are seen on the Web instead of TV, Laura Martin, analyst for Needham & Co told Bloomberg.

The networks say Google hasn’t presented a plan to close the ad-sales gap or fully explained its business. “We need to understand better what they’re going to do,” said Carey. To get support, Google needs to explain how ad sales will be shared and what steps will be taken to block pirated content, he said.

RBR-TVBR observation: We assume the two options are for the network to seek upfront payments for programming or establish an ad-sharing relationship—one that can be quantified. Moonves said CBS isn’t in formal negotiations with Google, which isn’t offering to pay for shows. So the likelihood is an ad-sharing model, possibly based on search ads. But the finer details – like inventory numbers, who can sell and package them on both sides (network vs. Google), etc., is probably not going to be hammered out until next year—after CES. Also, Google left a bad taste in the mouths of both radio and newspaper over the years, getting in and then leaving both media.