Google has added retail TV series to the UK Google Play store. The purchased TV content can be played via the PC browser or through the Google Play application on Android devices and offers individual episodes at £1.89 for SD or £2.49 for HD, with season bundle prices varying by show.
Although the content library is currently relatively limited, it features content from ABC (Grey's Anatomy and Revenge, the BBC (Doctor Who and Luther), Discover, Turner, Warner Brothers and NBCUniversal.
We will be updating our UK online TV forecasts over the coming weeks to reflect the launch.
Google is continuing to build out its own content ecosystem, with this move pre-empting the expected international launch of Google's Chromecast, a dongle for streaming online content to the TV set, and the new Nexus 7 tablet, due for launch in the UK later this year. Google increased the prominence of movies within the Play store in 2012, following the initial launch of films in the UK in 2011, a strategy which gained it a seven per cent market share of the country's online movie rental market in 2012, by IHS estimates.
Google will have to expand its library of TV shows from the current few-hundred it offers for the service to gain further traction, although this is a move which IHS anticipates over the coming months. Nonetheless, it has a substantial way to go to match iTunes' current library of 6,000 TV series and 80,000+ episodes.
Although Google Play has already become the third largest online store in the UK for movies, IHS expects that it will experience difficulties in moving further up the video service rankings, even with the addition of TV content bolstering its portfolio. Although Google's installed base of devices, through its Android OS, is growing rapidly in the UK, Android users are typified by lower spend per device than their iOS counterparts - reflecting the lower-cost nature of many Android devices and associated user demographics and purchase propensity, as well as lower numbers of Android tablets than iPads. Tablets are becoming a key device category for video consumption, and already outstrip most other connected devices in terms of video views per installed device in the UK.
Leveraging growth in Android tablets (including the new Nexus 7) and tapping into the TV set via Chromecast will be key to ensuring that consumers buy into the newly expanded content store, and ultimately allowing Google to exploit the positive effect which content purchasing has on stickiness within device/OS ecosystems - a factor which Apple and Microsoft (via the Xbox) have historically employed to great effect.