Google has announced content partners for the official US launch of "GoogleTV" its Android platform for connected living room devices (an international launch has been confirmed for 2011). Broadly speaking they fall into three tiers:
- Premium content partners announced offering long-form TV and movie programming include HBO Go, Netflix, and Amazon VoD.
- Prominent content partners onboard are the NBA, Turner Broadcasting, and NBC Universal's CNBC, however, services from these three are data driven or promotional in nature, featuring primarily short-form video content.
- Other content/app partners include YouTube, Blip.TV, Vevo, The New York Times, USA Today, Twitter, Napster, Pandora, Picasa, and Flickr.
We expect both the list of content partners to grow and services delivered via apps to grow once the Android market becomes available for the TV platform in 2011.
For more in-depth coverage in regard to the technical features, and implications for hardware and advertising partners of GoogleTV, please reference the Screen Digest Report Google TV: The next frontier or another 'Web TV', published on July 5 2010.
The launch of HBO Go on the GoogleTV platform is the first time a US pay TV cable channel has put a branded full-length content offering on a connected device platform. As the first 'TV Everywhere'-type content service to go direct to the TV set, the deal takes the HBO Go website that launched in February 2010 with a subset of HBO programming to CE devices. HBO Go on GoogleTV will only be available to existing HBO cable subscribers from pay TV operators that have launched TVE-type multi-screen services. Consequently the development is best viewed as more of a value add for subscribers of the HBO Pay TV channel, than as a way to extend the reach of HBO programming or encourage subscribers to "cut the cord." Instead, HBO is looking to make its programming available to subscribers on multiple platforms, while still remaining safely behind the pay wall.
Nevertheless the deal is an important one for Google TV. Pay TV channels, and other major online services like Hulu, have been very cautious in this area, as not to upset carriage deals with the pay TV operators they rely on for distribution. Hulu, for example, blocked access to the core Hulu service from Boxee in part to keep its content off the Boxee app that was installed onto hacked versions of the first generation Apple TV - a move that was widely understood to be treading too close to the pay TV operators' turf. This caution has been reflected in the way that HBO and its main competitor Showtime have previously dipped their toes in the CE platform pool with the launch of widgets on the VUDU App platform, in early 2010. Both have widgets for popular individual original programmes, however these widgets are promotional in nature and are not an access point for full-length program viewing. Showtime also launched a widget on the Yahoo! Widget Engine in 2010; again, it only offered access to short-form programming, "program samples," bonus features, and scheduling information. This stands in marked contrast to Netflix, a ubiquitous presence on living room connected devices, which offers its subscribers movies, TV and original programming which have been sub-licensed from Starz through a content deal, but this is not comparable to the HBO Go/Google TV scenario, in terms of its deal structure and lack of branding.
The remainder of the announced group of GoogleTV content partners is composed of the usual suspects: applications and services such as Netflix, Amazon VoD, Twitter, The New York Times and Pandora can be found on different CE platforms over numerous CE manufacturers in what has become a highly fractured market. With the exception of HBO Go, the content partners available on GoogleTV are not unique, and compared to other CE platforms, not numerous. As they stand, they do not represent much of a competitive advantage for GoogleTV.
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