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Google TV Guns for Cable Deals

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has a de facto exclusive deal with Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) as it pushes out its new TV platform, but the search giant has been knocking hard on cable doors in hopes of starting integration discussions, Light Reading Cable has learned. (See Dish's Google TV Exclusive Will Be Brief .)

Google is "pushing it [Google TV] hard to all the MSOs," says a source who's familiar with those discussions.

The Dish deal will allow Google TV and its lower promotional price to seed itself among the satellite giant's 14.3 million strong subscriber base. Complementary cable agreements would of course boost that potential, and give Google a foot in the door as it attempts to get Android-based devices more widely disseminated as part of its ongoing battle with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).

There's no word of any imminent deals that would use a pairing protocol to tightly integrate Google TV with cable set-tops, but Google's said to be pitching the product heavily. How seriously cable is listening to those pitches is questionable.

An exec with a top US MSO confirmed that the discussions are underway, with Google asking if its TV platform can be integrated with cable boxes in much the same way Dish is doing it. "Generically speaking, the request is: How we can connect their sidecar and make that a seamless experience," the exec said, noting that any financial terms are still being determined.

A deal that joins cable services, including video-on-demand (VoD), with Google TV and its integrated search and discovery functions might give MSOs some cachet. Also in Google TV's favor is that its companion-box setup isn't viewed as a "cord-cutting" tool, despite its ability to deliver some video over-the-top.

But it still might tweak some noses. Cable might not be so enthused about Google TV's ability to help consumers find video titles from third-party sources such as Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) -- sources that could put a dent in cable's own VoD revenues.

Google TV's integration approach does, however, fit well with cable's own ideas on how to work with third-party consumer electronics devices. The industry has been keen on using HDMI-CEC (High-Definition Multimedia Interface -- Consumer Electronics Control) as a way to control how a retail "set-back" box would communicate and function with the consumer's digital TV. (See Cable's Got Ideas for a Universal Retail Box .)

That same technology could also apply to boxes that use a variety of middlewares and set-top operating systems. So, if cable's truly serious about that, the Android-powered Google TV box could make for a real-world example.

And the timing wouldn't hurt -- a cable connection with Google might score points at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the commission gets its AllVid inquiry underway. (See Cable: FCC's AllVid Goes Too Far and All About the FCC's AllVid.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:21:20 PM
re: Google TV Guns for Cable Deals

As a small regional operator, how do I contact Google's TV business development group about this?  They're impressively stingy with contact information on their website...

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:21:19 PM
re: Google TV Guns for Cable Deals

Not sure who the contact is for Google TV integration deals, but I'll pose the question to some folks who might know. I received your email inquiry, too, so I'll follow up that way once I get an answer. JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:21:13 PM
re: Google TV Guns for Cable Deals

It's like Google's Android-enabled TVs are getting more traction than anything the FCC has done with CableCard. =)

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