Google TV plan is causing jitters in Hollywood
Many worry that Silicon Valley will upend the entertainment industry just like the Internet ravaged the music and newspaper industries.
Paul Sakuma, Associated Press
Google revolutionized the way people access information. Now it wants to transform how people get entertainment.
The search giant is touting an ambitious new technology, called Google TV, that would marry the Internet with traditional television, enabling viewers to watch TV shows and movies unshackled from the broadcast networks or cable channels on which they air. Users would need to buy a TV or set-top box with Google software that could connect to the Internet, along with a keyboard to type commands. Users could also use their iPhone or Android phone to operate Google TV.
The prospect of Google getting into television frightens many in Hollywood, who worry that Silicon Valley will upend the entertainment industry just like the Internet ravaged the music and newspaper industries.
By bringing the Web directly to the living room TV, entertainment industry executives fear Google TV will encourage consumers to ditch their $70 monthly cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of watching video free via the Internet.
Others believe it will fan piracy because Google refuses to block access to bootleg movies and television shows.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this story online said a demonstration of Google TV for a network executive showed how users could access BitTorrent, a major source of bootleg TV shows and movies. A Google spokesman said that no such demonstration took place.
And, perhaps most troubling to Hollywood, Google doesn't yet know how it will make money on Google TV — and whether it intends to compensate the studios and networks for the content.
"It's kind of an end-run around their control of signal, and that's scary," said Harold Vogel, president of media investment firm Vogel Capital Management, of broadcasters' response to Google TV. "Because if you don't control the signal, then you can't provide your own advertising. It really destroys the legacy business model."
Google sees its role as harnessing the power of the Internet to improve television viewing. It's an opportunity, company project managers argue, for the movie studios and television networks to use the limitless storage capacity of the Web to make their libraries of programs available whenever someone wants to watch an old episode of "All in the Family" or classic films such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's."