Google starts its own search for TV stars

Discussion in 'More News from Your Google TV News Team' started by Rickaren, May 30, 2011.

  1. Rickaren

    Rickaren New Member Staff Member

    Nov 20, 2010
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    Indiana, Logitech Revue
    Google starts its own search for TV stars

    Tony Glover
    May 31, 2011

    The internet search engine giant may be king of the small screen, but now it has ambitions in Hollywood as it seeks a slice of the video entertainment market. Tony Glover writes

    Google is transforming itself into a major TV broadcaster offering paid-for blockbuster movies plus original content for up to 20 new Google TV channels.
    Hollywood is now buzzing with the news that the internet search engine giant is talent scouting for celebrities to front its TV programmes while forming partnerships with the big studios.

    Google is using its online video service YouTube to launch a paid-for video service offering blockbusters such as The King's Speechand Inception plus 3,000 other movies. Some films will be free and others will cost up to US$3.99 (Dh14.65) to rent for a month.

    But Google is also developing a hold over the major Hollywood studios by providing the digital rights management software needed to prevent video pirates from stealing the content and distributing it free over the internet.

    The search giant's first and most daunting task, however, will be to turn its internet video arm YouTube from an amateur service, where people share what are little more than home movie clips, into a full-blown paid-for entertainment service capable of competing with rivals such as Apple, the global internet movie giant Netflix as well as with traditional broadcasters.

    Adrian Drury, a principal partner at the international research company Ovum, says the fundamental problem Google faces is how to encourage YouTube viewers to stay online longer in order to grab a slice of America's $70 billion broadcast advertising market.

    However, Google is an amateur compared with its major competitors in the entertainment industry. Acquiring YouTube for $1.65bn in 2006 initially enabled Google to punch above its weight in the video industry.
    But, despite its popularity with consumers, YouTube is a poor business model in its current form.

    "YouTube viewers stay on for an average of four hours a month, whereas TV viewers in the US clock up an average of five hours a day," says Mr Drury.

    "Google has been pumping investment into its video entertainment offering," he says. "Last year, YouTube launched a beta version of its movie download service offering content from some of the small studios. The new deal brings Google closer to Apple and Amazon Video on Demand but it is still nowhere near Netflix in terms of content."

    When Google unveiled its quarterly results last month, its chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, highlighted the company's hunger to invest in new markets.
    Google has already begun to make acquisitions designed to enable it to produce its own video entertainment content.

    "YouTube is still seen as being a library of home-made user-generated content. The next stage is to offer Google-produced exclusive, premium content," says Mr Drury. "That is why Google has been partnering web video studios and why it bought web video production company Next New Networks, which was backed by Goldman Sachs."

    But Google is attempting to penetrate an industry that is dogged by piracy. Hollywood has been successful in lobbying for imposing draconian laws to prosecute video pirates. For example, in some US states, illegally copying Hollywood movies can result in a longer prison sentence than manslaughter.

    However, despite the industry's hammer-to-crack-a-nut approach, it is helpless to control the spread of video piracy over the internet. Some Scandinavian countries, for instance, are resistant to anything they believe restricts the freedom of the internet and refuse to label the video pirates as criminals. Google hopes to use its internet software muscle to control the industry by providing an online solution to Hollywood's problem.

    "The constant threat posed by video piracy is the reason Google bought Widevine last year," says Mr Drury.

    "Widevine is a company that specialises in the kind of digital rights management software used to protect video content. This will enable Google to play a pivotal role in the industry by providing DRM software to the major studios."

    Mr Drury adds Google is also gearing up to produce its own TV channels, which will be distributed by Google TV, now being bundled with TV sets from major electronics manufacturers.

    "Google is currently going talent shopping on California's West Coast with $100 million to find celebrities to front 20 new TV channels that it is planning," he says. "Each channel is to have five to 10 hours of Google-produced content. This is likely to be celebrity-based reality content, with a named celebrity fronting each channel."
    Google was unavailable for comment.

    It seems Google's reputation for offering as wide a choice of online content as possible may not extend to its film and TV services.

    Initially, at least, the choice of entertainment offered to viewers may be restricted to English-language, US-focused Hollywood movies and American-style live audience TV shows rather than international content.

    The jury is also still out as to whether Google can succeed in grabbing a big enough slice of the video entertainment market to make its continuing investment in the industry worthwhile.

  2. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2011
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    Sounds interesting - but for now if I had my choice I'd prefer Hulu content over Google's attempt to 'beef up' youtube. I wonder is Google plans on this being intended to REPLACE Hulu content? Will they be willing to spend all the money for new celebrity YouTube stuff AND still want to spend more money to strike a deal with Hulu?

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