Pause Button

25 10 2010

Often the biggest roadblock to progress is a competitor who feels threatened. It happens all the time in city commission meetings, when a new business wants to come to town, but the commercial establishment does everything in its power to make life difficult. I also see it when local communities launch “shop local” campaigns aimed at intimidating residents into spending their money in town, lest any of those competing far away cities reap the economic benefit.

Ah, competition. Everyone’s in favor of it…until it starts to affect them.

The latest round of opposition is being levied by network TV stations fearful of the effect Google TV might have on them. Rather than trying to compete mano-a-mano, the networks are basically threatening to take their ball home.

While live network TV will still be viewable through a Google TV box, it is the archived recent shows normally viewed online that will be blocked. In other words, if you missed the latest episode of Survivor this week, tough luck viewing it. You will have to go to a standard computer and pull it up through one of the network’s viewing sites.

I can understand why the networks are nervous. After all, Google is seeking to combine TV and the internet into one experience. And it is the natural progression of things. The networks are effectively stonewalling and saying that there is no way they are going to allow the extension of this street, because to do so would mean customers might go streaming by. Yeah, pun intended.

If the networks are trying to buy time so that they might forge a product response, it would be one thing. But I do not think this is the case. The networks are acting as if the only way they would allow this type of viewing would be through their own proprietary device. We do not need multiple devices. What we need is an aggregator like Google TV that will allow us to do it all.

Aggregators are not new, of course. In fact, Google is perhaps one of the biggest aggregators of all. Their News feature brings together the output of hundreds of media outlets. And our cable and satellite TV operators have been doing the same for years. All that Google is trying to do is take our television and internet activities to the next level.

For the networks to draw this line in the sand is simply reprehensible, and gives me all the more reason to dismiss them from my viewing activities. If your content is so good, then let it stand on its own.

I will never forget the wisdom of my International Marketing professor at Indiana University. Dr. Hans Thorelli told us in class so succinctly, “Protectionism is the hallmark of a third world economy.” And that is exactly what the networks are trying to do, effectively protecting themselves (and us) from competition. Just like when local economies lack the confidence to allow residents to make up their own shopping minds, and instead resort to guilt trips.

Give me that remote. I think it’s time to change the channel.

Dr “Compete or Die” Gerlich

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