Google wants to do for TV what it did for the Web

Google wants to do for TV what it did for the WebVincent Dureau, Google’s head of TV technology, gave us another glimpse into the mind of Google and what it might be planning for its television presence in his opening keynote at iTV Con, a trade show conference dedicated to Internet TV.

Television, he said, is experiencing an identity crisis (Register report). As we all know, there has been an explosion of content, with more and more cable and satellite TV channels; with the Internet, IPTV, and YouTube; and with TiVo and DVRs. Viewers have more freedom to pick what they want to watch, when, and to add to the confusion, they can skip the advertising.

Dureau, like many other industry observers, notes that this creates new problems for content producers and for advertisers, “as they struggle to reach an audience that has so many options.” The same thing, he argued, applied to the World Wide Web, which Google helped tame with search and AdSense, among other innovations. With a little Internet know-how, the TV industry can enjoy a brighter future.

Google style.

With a more fragmented audience it’s easier for advertisers to reach the people they covet. “Audience fragmentation is a good thing,” Dureau told conference attendees, “You can make your audience more specialized. With more specialized channels you can actually insert more relevant content that’s more likely to reach the intended audience.”

You can actually make more money, because you can increase the relevancy of your ads. You can cut down on the number of ads – and still reach more people. At the end of the day, you’re changing the attitude of the consumer. They’ve reached a point where they expect the ad to be relevant and they’re more likely to watch it.”

Sounds like Google TV AdSense.

He also argued that ad skipping is a “godsend.” If advertisers can determine which ads are being skipped and which are not, they can improve getting their ads in front of people who actually want to view them. Important to this initiative, he said, is building web-based technologies into TV set-top boxes that can track such information.

Sounds like Google TV Search. Google TV Metrics.

Google’s foray into non web-based Internet television began, at least publicly, around the time of Dureau’s hire in August 2006. He was the CTO for OpenTV, a leader of IPTV-enabling technologies and services. Google had already begun its search for engineers with IPTV experience.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Google was partnering with EchoStar to sell commercials over the DISH satellite broadcaster’s 125 national programming networks, an early indicator, ZDNet UK noted, of how Google planned to use its ad business to conquer television.

Additionally, two research scientists from Google have developed a way for a computer to quickly identify which shows someone is watching on TV and feed personalized Internet content to the person based on the information learned (InformationWeek).

More details about this effort recently emerged in a patent filing by Google for Social and Interactive Applications for Mass Media. One element of the patent bandied about on the Web is “an image capture device can be used to measure how many viewers are watching or listening to a broadcast.” The system is to identify audio within a TV broadcast and compare it to appropriate reference material for identification. After that, “personalized information related to the media broadcast” is aggregated to the viewer.

The patent. The EchoStar deal. The hiring of Dureau and IPTV engineers. Little by little details about Google’s TV plans are being revealed. It looks like, if Google has its way, there will be the Google “ecosystem” behind TV, just like it is behind the Web.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

27 Responses to “Google wants to do for TV what it did for the Web”

  1. tny says:

    If Google wants to do what it did for the web there might be a need for a good universal media browser for a real Internet experience on your TV. We might need something like what a universal browser like Firefox or IE did for the Web as well: A great browser as a platform for all these services. For example something like ToxTox (toxtox.tv): An open, extendable and universal media browser for your TV.
    In the end the viewer should be able to view and use all their favorite service from a single interface and not a dozen of different platforms switching from settop-box to Joost to AppleTv and back… If Google wants to it right they should consider themselves what made the Web so great: Openness and Standards.

  2. David Mackey says:

    I am excited about what the future of web TV will bring, and I think Google is on the right track. I dont mind watching commercials – just make them something I care about. For example, I could care less about a new car (I already have the ones I need) but that is still better than a commercial about a woman’s razor (I’m a guy) or toys for tots (I’m not a parent).

  3. hpv says:

    MS is much further down the internet tv track than google is. With the xbox sitting in millions of homes they have a definite head start.

  4. tv online has already started

    http://tv-links.co.uk – watch full tv shows youtube-style

    http://sharetv.org – download full tv shows

    bittorrent.com, itunes, and amazon – buy tv shows online

  5. 10668844 says:

    I really don’t understand what all the big talk about technology being, and why Google needs to become part of traditional TV.

    Go buy an TV out video card and an s-video cable with an RCA video end on it as well as an RCA stereo cable with a 1/8 inch headphone jack on the other end. The total cost of all 3 of those item can run you as little as $150.00 with taxes.

    Plug the s-video end into your tv-out card and the video RCA end into one of your inputs on your TV. Then plug the 1/8 headphone jack into your sound card and the RCA ends into either your stereo or TV and there you go, you can now watch YouTube or any other video on your TV and have stereo sound.

    Most TV out video cards come with a remote that allows you to control some functionality.

    The consumer is more than enabled to break free of traditional TV, only we’re not trying hard enough.

  6. Judith says:

    OK… this is cool but creepy at the same time.
    While I like some of the ideas, I’m also getting that “it’s far too invasive” feeling creeping up my spine.

    I can already do so much from watching YouTube on my phone to watching shows when I want to – not when they are broadcast. I don’t watch commercials.

    I just feel… I’m wary, worries and watchful. We’ll see what *actually* happens

  7. Todd says:

    It would be fun to mess-up the “listening technology” by playing recordings of different things like out-of-context conversations, sound effects, etc. And see what advertisements I get served. :P

  8. AskTheAdmiN says:

    Microsoft has already started and Apple is following suit. Tivo is doing movie downloads and more and more companies are doing the interactive web tv. It came and went in early the early 2000′s.

    Security concerns are do users worry about tv cookies? Will we need virus protection for our tvs?

    Thanks for the interesting read from your frineds @ http://www.askTheAdmin.com

  9. Niko Bellic says:

    It’s too much competition, Google will lose. They can’t hold both the Internet search market and the TV industry. They won’t like it, and they’ll try to brand their television service with their search engine, which won’t come off well. Also their forming a huge network of sites and services, a Google monopoly..I don’t like it.

    In the meanwhile, you can still get the old’ Internet TV from here:
    http://www.freetube.us.tc
    http://www.joost.com
    http://www.peekvids.com
    http://www.jumptv.com

  10. Dave says:

    Google will be photographing how many viewers there are? So I can’t watch tv in my underwear any more? Can’t grope my wife during commercials? Just wait until that idea hits the tubes.

  11. Georgia says:

    Anyone remember the book 1984?

  12. vote... says:

    “Anyone remember the book 1984?”

    Google is not a government agency, Georgia. Damn.

  13. Ratings says:

    Mess with Nielsen and you get crushed…like all the others.

  14. alviss says:

    Great place where watch internet TV http://www.lordoftv.com

  15. Trevor says:

    Google is late to the game, I watch many current world news events and sporting events on http://www.jumptv.com in real time. They used to be a subscription service but are now have a lot of free channels if you are viewing from the US.
    One thing that is exciting is that google always has a great innovations in the presentation of otherwise annoying things like ads and webmail. I look forward to see what their brain trust produces.

  16. Greig says:

    Finally. I can’t believe how much hesitation there’s been from the big networks to streaming TV shows online – it’s the perfect way to add viewer-specific advertising. You can even keep track of viewership and ratings easier than with cable TV. There must be dozens of ‘pros’ to it.

    I know I spend an inordinate amount of time surfing websites like Peekvid, alluc.org, tv-links.co.uk, sidereel.com for my favorite TV shows but since content is always being taken down by the host websites the links are notoriously inconsistent (I’ve been cataloguing the current best sites for viewing popular TV shows at http://www.mymindwanders.com/blog/?cat=13 ).

    It’s time for networks to get with the program and perhaps Google will be the final push they need.

  17. putz says:

    hpv writes… “MS is much further down the internet tv track than google is. With the xbox sitting in millions of homes they have a definite head start.”

    Good Lord! Can you imagine such a great service? What ever could we call it…? Red ring of death, blue screen of death?… no wait, those are already taken. I can think of no quicker way to send IPTV back the geek board then letting MSN get control of another box. Jesus H, please help us.

  18. Finally – RELEVANT ads while I watch TV! Advertise something I am interested in!

    -Van TVFreeOnYourPC

  19. Jacob says:

    Sounds interesting. I hope you’d be able to get at it from a computer, too…

  20. Golansy says:

    Watch Online Movie and TV Series at http://www.ovpedia.com/

  21. Mike says:

    i WILL TRY IT AND LET YOU KNOW HOW IT IS FOR ME, GOLANSY

  22. davidrock says:

    Watch Movies and TV shows online free…

    http://www.moviezz.info