TV Search and Google – the natural end game

There have been two great articles in the last couple of days, both discussing the future of search and the television. The Times led focussed on the next generation of TiVo boxes that are being tested at the moment, whilst PaidContent focussed on the rumours that Google is working with the Dish Network in the US on a new product. With hundreds of linear channels and thousands of hours of VOD programming no one will deny that your television and search will be a big market in the future –  but what’s the logical conclusion here, and do we like it?

On the SKY platform in the UK there are well over 300 channels available, and though every platform has tried to innovate the EPG is a redundant tool when it comes to program discovery. There is just too much choice for a traditional EPG and remote to effectively search and discover new programming.

The VOD market is even worse – SeeSaw recently launched with a ‘mere’ 3000 hours of content! Everyone states that this is not enough for a commercial service – try and discover something on that service though. Unless SeeSaw markets the content through their editorial highlights, it won’t be found.

Also the VOD market is very fragmented at the moment – SeeSaw, Canvas, iPlayer, SkyPlayer, ITVPlayer, 4OD, Demand5 – and that is just in the UK and just the major broadcasters! How do you know which service to go to, which do you choose?

We then have a new breed of online search services coming through, companies like TVPixie and FindmeTV are both looking to create discovery engines for broadcast – but both are online only at the moment, and without funding you wonder if they can make the leap to compete with the likes of Tivo, Rovi and Google?

So we come back to Google – the case is made above, with so much programming stretching across linear, VOD, online and mobile – a search service that can find you what you want to watch is going to be needed. And who better to provide a cross-platform search service – than Google.

But Google is so much more than a search company these days, and with the HTC they have proved that their not afraid to move into the hardware market. So why Google would just provide the search, why not own the service and provide the STB?

As anyone who has read my blog before knows I am not a fan of the STB and believe that its days are numbered, so let’s jump further down the line – and lets imagine a world where Google starts producing Televisions, running on Android with a Google powered program discovery engine?

Google has the heritage now to achieve this, and it would be in their disruptive nature to go up against the traditional platforms. They have the experience to do hardware partnerships, the experience to with Android to create a OS and the expertise to build a fantastic program search functionality.

And let us not forget YouTube, which is already beginning to show and play long form content, and is no doubt already embedded in a number of the new CE services that will launch this year.

All the pieces are in place for a Google TV service, the complete value chain (let’s not forget they’re pretty good at advertising as well), from beginning to end.

The thought excites me – but from a marketing point of view there is one problem. Google used to be the brand we all loved, it used to be a brand all about freedom, discovery….but as it grows and enters so many parts of our lives I’m beginning to become wary of how much data it holds on me.

It already has all my emails, all my search strings….do I really want it to know that I want to watch Midsummer Murders tonight as well?

6 thoughts on “TV Search and Google – the natural end game

  1. It will be very interesting to see how VOD content discovery plays out in the future and how television viewing changes as a result.

    In relation to FindMeTV, the website is the first in a range of TV discovery products. Delivery of the service on other mobile platforms, set top boxes and internet-connected TVs is planned, and the FindMeTV iPhone app will be available in coming weeks.

  2. I agree with your reasoning. Google might become more central just through the brute force of its existing search capacity as more and more existing EPG’s want to offer enhanced services i.e. clicking on the name of an actor in the EPG bringing up googleNews on their Oscar nomination …

  3. Not to forget the “Google Island” where Google is entering fiber internet service provider business which can be a reliable base for any IPTV platform.

  4. How would you know what to search for if you don’t know what’s on?

    I think you’ll always need an EPG of some kind of another (hopefully they will be much better than they are today, aside from Hulu’s brilliant EPG) to show people what is actually on.

    Search is just not as important for content discovery.

  5. Good post Richard. On the “what would you search for” question what would work for me is for everyone to have their own EPG that others could see or “follow”.

    Like a Twitter account you could have lists or simply allow people to see what you currently watch (“follow”). People go on word of mouth recommendation from trusted sources. If you (as a trusted source) tell me it’s worth seeing I’m more likely to watch it that any ad (or conventional EPG) trying to influence me to do so.

    I guess there’s the issue of peoples viewing habits being published as yet another invasion of privacy but it would be fun to see. I never had you down as a Midsomers Murder fan for example… 😉

    SocialTVepg – quick buy the URL!

  6. For those subscribing to the comments on this post – there is a new posting on the subject here – http://wp.me/prkQ3-S – based on the rumour that in fact it is Google/Sony/Intel/Logitech who are working together on this project!

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