On The Tube

7 04 2011

The broadcast media landscape has changed considerably in the last few years. Whereas it was once a one-screen phenomenon (i.e., television), it is now three (mobile and computers). Furthermore, it is getting muddier by the day, with convergence being the key word for any media company’s success. Or, more aptly, survival.

So it is no surprise to see major TV networks hustling to provide web content, and to some extent mobile (think apps, with text, pics and/or video). And it’s not just the big networks doing it. For example, Amarillo’s Newschannel10 has deployed a powerful mobile app that allows users to watch the evening news (delayed, of course) as well as read content and view pics.You have to be in all places these days (just like print media have learned).

But what is really surprising is when you hear about Google’s plan to revamp its YouTube property by developing 20 channels of original content. Yes, Google has its sights set on being the next Discovery, History, A&E, or you name it.

It goes without saying that Google has the web and mobile cornered, but what about TV? Simple. Google TV (and the set box needed to make it all work) is the platform by which Google will put its programming on your nice big 52″ LCD.

Can anyone say coup?

Google has faced a ton of resistance from network TV. ABC has blocked its content from running through a Google TV box, but Google is now effectively saying, “Look, if you don’:T want to play along, we’ll just do it ourselves.” Seeded with an initial $100 million, Google has the deep pockets to make this happen. While that only breaks down to $5 per channel, there’s plenty more money where that came from. And I bet there are many hungry actors and actresses in LA who would love to get on any screen, regardless of whether Google is handing out the paychecks.

Of course, the entire venture will be funded by advertising, something Google is quite capable of selling. They are already the biggest advertising engine as it is. They’re just expanding their portfolio to become an advertising/media giant.

Given that every iPhone and Android sold has a YouTube app on it, it goes without saying that we will be able to watch these new shows (slated for late-2011 or early-2012 launch) on the go. Computers are also not a problem. The biggest hurdle will be getting folks to buy the hardware for Google TV. At $300, that’s about the price of a decent smartphone, but a fraction of a home theater system. Once the content is deemed worthy of the price, I anticipate American TVs quickly becoming Google-compliant.

And a lot earlier than traditional TV networks ever hoping to claim a significant presence on mobile or computers. Try as they might, they just don’t have the computing muscle that Google has. Furthermore, the Big 3 networks are vulnerable, having had much of their cultural significance whittled away by upstart cable/satellite channels producing their own original programming.

In other words, Google could easily kick some tail. And it’s a story you will see simulcast on all three screens.

Dr “In Technicolor” Gerlich

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