Talking tech since 2003

It’s no secret that the web is the go-to entertainment destination for most people these days, having eclipsed television in terms of its overall relevance years ago. Case in point: some of the more interesting events to happen on television lately (like “the Red Wedding” on Game of Thrones, for instance) have revolved around the way people on the web have reacted to it in real time via blog posts, Twitter, Vine, and Facebook, to name but a few. So when news reports of search giant Google trying to make a deal with television content-providers start to trickle in, it’s difficult not to sit up and take notice.

According to a post on the Wall Street Journal, Google has been in talks with media companies to find a way to bring traditional television to an as-yet unspecified Internet TV service. What makes this rumored initiative different is that it would supposedly bring live television streaming to users in much the same way that flipping on a TV set does—whereas many of the television-viewing options that have taken root over the last few years, like, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant, offer their wares to customers on-demand.

Will it happen? Until we know more, it’s impossible to say. Google may be one of the most important companies around, but it’s no secret that other huge tech companies have tried similar deals and haven’t quite figured it out. Microsoft, for example, managed to come to an agreement with a few cable companies around the country for television streaming and on-demand apps on its Xbox 360 console, but those were only available to users who were already paying for cable subscriptions.

The big question I have is whether Google is talking with cable providers, like Microsoft did, or if individual television networks are in talks. If the latter, that might mean some interesting new possibilities for media consumption. If Google can forge a deal with networks to create a brand new subscription service that eschews companies like Comcast, Time Warner, or DirecTV, we could have a legitimate contender to challenge those entrenched cable service providers. In most cities around the country, customers can choose either cable or satellite, with little to no options in between. We can’t even choose which cable provider we want, since most cities only have one option to pick from depending on which company has monopolized the area’s infrastructure.

Can you imagine how great it would be if everyone had the option of dropping their cable or dish providers and went with a GoogleTV subscription? Prices would suddenly get more competitive, and TV providers would have to actively court subscribers by offering actual incentives.

I have my doubts that Google will be able to pull it off. As I mentioned, other tech giants have tried and failed. But maybe Google can make magic happen where others have come up short.


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