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Google TV announces its programming partners

Google announced on Monday its first Internet and media partners for Google TV, its effort to bring Web entertainment to television sets. But the announcement underscored the difficulties companies face as they try to work their way into the living room.

The major television networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — will not participate, at least for the moment.

Several networks, Internet companies and media outlets, including HBO, CNBC, Twitter, Netflix and Amazon, have agreed to work with Google in offering Web content and programming via television, the company announced in a blog post. They will allow on-demand viewing or build apps or websites for TV screens.

James L. McQuivey, a principal analyst at Forrester, the technology research firm, called the partnerships "underwhelming." Still, he said, other Google TV features, like the ability to search the Web for information about an actor or chat with friends on Twitter while watching television, are more important to its success.

"They don't actually need content partners to start their little revolution," he said. "They don't need the major broadcasters to play along because they can do a lot of cool things with you as a viewer without having to share any of the money."

Google TV is the latest and most prominent service to connect televisions to the Web, promising to make all the living room's media as searchable and instantly accessible as the Internet's content. That promise requires significant cooperation from media companies, and many have been reluctant.

With Google TV, the company wants to be a leader in the budding industry of Internet-connected television sets, which Forrester expects to be in 43 million U.S. homes by 2015, up from 2 million this year.

The average American watches five hours of televisions a day, making it the biggest medium for advertisers.

"One of our goals with Google TV is to finally open up the living room and enable new innovation from content creators, programmers, developers and advertisers," Ambarish Kenghe, developer product manager for Google TV, wrote in the company blog post Monday.

Google faces competition from makers of set-top boxes including Apple, TiVo, Boxee and Roku, and from television distributors.

In addition to media companies' caution, they all face another overarching challenge: Television viewers unimpressed with Internet-connected TV. Just 3 percent of people own or intend to buy one, and almost two-thirds have not heard of them, according to Forrester. Of those who own them, a quarter do not use the Web capabilities.

The Google TV technology, which was announced in May and will be available to consumers in the coming weeks, will be built into new Sony high-definition televisions and Blu-ray players, and into a Logitech set-top box that viewers can use with their existing sets. Google will make its software available to other makers of TVs and set-top boxes. The companies have not said how much the equipment would cost.

Logitech is building a remote control for searching the TV and the Web, and viewers can also use their Android phones or iPhones as a remote control and "fling" a video they are watching on their phones to the television.

Google TV announces its programming partners 10/04/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 4, 2010 9:26pm]
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