Some of America's broadcast networks — ABC and CBS in particular — are blocking their shows from appearing on Google TV, the service that aims to integrate Web videos with TV programming. And Google's plan is for all of that content to be available on both televisions and computers.
But that vision doesn't match with the networks' financial model, which relies upon both advertising dollars and payments from cable providers.
There are also reports that the networks are looking to gain leverage against Google, to pressure the search and advertising giant into making it harder for people to find pirated content.
As of now, it appears that both FOX and MTV are allowing their content to show up on Google TV. There have been conflicting reports that NBC is blocking all or part of its lineup, including primetime shows like The Office. But PC magazine says the show is coming through without incident.
Of course, Google's not happy with the situation. They're in talks to incorporate network shows — and to bring a version of Hulu to Google TV, as well.
One model that might help shape a future solution is the one adopted by Time Warner. The company says it will allow HBO subscribers to get its shows on Google TV. Of course, the premium-cable HBO has an advantage over the networks — it's already gotten money from the viewers. The snag seems to arise when programming that had been underwritten by advertising is stripped away from the platform the advertising was based on.
And there's another reason for HBO to enter this partnership — Google's talent for organizing and ranking. According to The L.A. Times:
Time Warner executives say cable operators have historically done a poor job helping viewers navigate hundreds of channels of shows and movies. Google TV could provide a service by expeditiously producing a list of sites where viewers could see their favorite shows.
Services like that one might be a real lure for anyone who's not into the idea of having 400 Internet TV channels to go along with the 400 they're already not watching on their cable or satellite plan.
As an analyst says in The L.A. Times, the consumer is not really getting a great experience while the behemoths of television and advertising fight it out:
Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said that blocking access to network shows on Google TV wouldn't stop people from watching shows online because simple workarounds — such as hooking up a laptop to the TV set — can accomplish the same thing.
"This doesn't stop people from watching online content on their televisions," McQuivey said. "It just frustrates them."
If you'd like to see a hands-on look at Google TV, The Washington Post has one up. So far, the service's biggest booster on the manufacturing side is Sony.