Friday, May 21, 2010

Is Google TV the Holy Grail?


Google’s announcement of Google TV achieves the Holy Grail of the digital-television conversion that has been going on the past two decades. The quality and streaming issues that had been prevalent on the web have been solved with higher bandwidth connections and faster computing processors. Televisions now come with internet inputs and the capability of connecting to the internet. What has been missing has been that piece that seamlessly connects the two.
I was very frustrated a few months ago when I bought a new flat screen TV with internet connections to find that the only internet access I had was to YouTube, Picasa and some pre-set weather information. I could not access Hulu or Netflex, fliker of Facebook. I couldn’t watch videos from iTunes-U or Vimeo. It looks as if Google TV is on the way to bridging that gap.
What does this mean for video producers and video content on the internet?
New Audiences: If people can easily access content from their TV more people are going to watch. I for one would rather watch old episodes of Bones from my couch then from my office chair.
Quality: I have always been a proponent of quality, even ten years ago when on-line video was a postage-stamp sized blur. Now with HD being streamed to the living room TV quality standards are again important.
Content: Content has always been king. But does seamless access to the web from your TV mean folks will be sitting on their couch watching “cats on treadmills” or will they choose to watch first run movies or college lectures. Maybe all the above.
Competition: For years the web has been leveling the playing field for independent producers and talented armatures. Will this tilt the field back toward big budget, high quality productions or open the door to entrepreneurial independents? Perhaps a bit of both.
Search: I am sure that Google has put some thought into the search engine for Google TV but content producers, especially independents will need to pay more attention to how they can be found and stand up amongst a crowded field.
Advertisers: I think this is just going to increase the practice of putting ads at the head of video content and move dollars away from traditional broadcasters to the web.
Death of Broadcast? I’ve been in television for over 30 years and predictions of broadcasting eminent demise have been frequent and premature. However there has been a trend toward the internet and this will surely accelerate it. In my career I’ve needed to move my focus from broadcast to the internet. I think NOW there is a place for big budget, high quality, serial programs on the internet.
The success of Google TV will depend up its openness and ease. It needs to work on a Sony, Toshiba and a Panasonic TV and my mother needs to figure out how to operate it. I have been talking to people for at least the past 11 years about the full convergence of TV and the internet and I’m excited to find out how it pans out.

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