Big networks block content for Google TV

Posted on October 22, 2010

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(NYT) In the latest sign that Google may struggle to transform television viewing with Google TV, its new service for Internet-connected TVs, three major broadcast networks and Hulu are blocking people from using the service to watch full-length TV shows on their Web sites.

Initially, people could watch the full shows on TVs and set-top boxes that use the Google TV software, which Sony and Logitech began selling this month. But as of Thursday, most of the full shows on the sites of NBC, ABC, CBS and Hulu were blocked. People could still visit the sites to read text and, in some cases, watch short vignettes, but not full shows.

Regular, non-Internet television programming is available through Google TV. But the service also includes an Internet browser, so people can search the Web or post on Twitter while they are watching television — or watch full-length shows online, on the big screen. That is what bothers the networks, who do not want to lose control of their television broadcasting and advertising or cannibalize TV viewership.

The clearest hints that the networks did not plan to cooperate with Google TV came earlier this month, when Google unveiled its first content partners. The major networks did not participate, and the media outlets that did offered only small apps, like a CNBC stock ticker.

Network executives said at the time that they remained wary. They want Google to share revenue from ads on Google TV, block illegal Internet sources of their shows and make sure their shows stand out amid the flood of programs and videos on the Web.

In a statement Thursday, Google said that it was “ultimately the content owners’ choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform.”

The network blocking was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Google is negotiating with Hulu to offer Hulu Plus, its subscription service, through Google TV, according to a person briefed on Google’s plans.

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Posted in: Google