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Google angling to enter MVPD biz

Fri, 11/04/2011 - 2:55pm
Brian Santo

Google is laying the groundwork to start distributing video, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The company has long talked about being in the TV business. The issue was whether it would voluntarily restrict itself to over-the-top (OTT) content or attempt to compete with multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). If the latter, the question was whether it would be able to secure the content to compete as an MVPD?

The WSJ reports the company is negotiating with various content companies, including the Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc. and Discovery Communications.

So, yeah, it sounds like Google will go head-to-head with MVPDs – provided it actually seals a few of those deals.

The article also states that Google is considering offering the full triple-play – so telephony in addition to broadband and TV – on the all-fiber network it is in the process of building in Kansas City, Kan.

Google subsequently released a statement stating: "We're still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber."

The WSJ report follows hard on the heels of an article in Fast Company that looks at the increasingly convergent aims of four enormous companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) that are all, in one way or another, figuring out how to get into the TV business – though none of the four have met with much success thus far.

That article is only the most recent to lay out Google's (and the other three's) ambitions to get into the TV business. It suggests all four companies – termed the "Fab Four" – are drooling at the opportunity to snatch slices of both the TV ad market and the pay-TV subscription market.

According to the article: "Each of the Fab Four believes that it can somehow define the future of television, when that flat-panel in your living room (and every other device you own) is connected to the Web, pulling in the video you want at the moment you want it. With the universe of choice now available, the moribund channel grid will need to be revolutionized with a fresh interface for finding programs. Social signals – such as indications of what shows your friends are watching and hints as to what shows you might like given those friendships – will be part of the mix, as will live conversations with friends watching the same show. And the advertising will be more targeted and relevant. Each of the Fab Four wants a piece of this. The honey pot? Not only that $70 billion in domestic ad revenue, but also $74 billion in cable-subscriber fees."

Google announced it would wire a test community with fiber optics more than a year ago; it selected Kansas City earlier this year.

Before that, Google bought YouTube and has turned it into a forum not only for user-generated content, but for professional content, as well, including the occasional experiment with studio movies. YouTube announced a broad entertainment venture earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Google has continued to refine Google TV, meant to eventually combine linear and over-the-top (OTT) content, though currently focused on OTT.

Even Google acknowledges on its Google TV site: "The initial version of Google TV wasn't perfect, but launching it gave us the opportunity to learn. These are still early days, and we're working hard to move forward with each update."

Clearly, the company has not yet thrown in the towel on that effort.

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