Television networks ABC, CBS and NBC are shielding programming on their Websites from Google TV, citing concerns that the service does not adequately protect their programming from piracy.
Google TV is a new Web service based on Google’s Android operating system that blends TV content with Web content via Google’s Chrome Web browser.
Entire episodes of popular TV shows such as NBC’s “The Office,” CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” and ABC’s “Modern Family” can’t be viewed on NBC, CBS and ABC Websites through Google TV, according to the Wall Street Journal.
However, ABC and NBC allow promotional clips from their Websites to play on Google TV. Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, who has been testing Google TV this week, runs through the blocked Websites here.
While ABC, CBS and NBC cited content piracy as a concern, they likely want some sort of financial agreement from Google to enable their ABC.com, CBS.com and NBC.com to be displayed using Google TV.
After all, Google stands to bring its digital ad empire from computers and mobile phones to the television if Google TV finds traction.
Google confirmed the blocked Websites Oct. 22, but stressed that users can still watch these shows from their regular TV broadcast channels.
“Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owners’ choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform,” the company said in a statement.
The blocked Websites are not unlike the impasse the search engine is currently at with Hulu, which as the Web TV broadcast venture owned by Disney, NBC Universal and News Corp. blocks its video content from Google TV.
Google and Hulu are conducting ongoing talks about bringing Hulu Plus subscriptions to Google TV.
A source familiar with the ABC, NBC and CBS blocking of Websites from Google TV indicated that the blocks are stopgap protests by a few among the millions of Websites available via Google TV.
“At the end of the day, the networks are just trying to figure out how to work with Google TV and enable it, but it’s going to take some time,” the source said.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association noted that the use of copyright as a fig leaf to prevent new, disruptive technologies from upsetting established media is hardly a new strategy.
At the end of the day, the CCIA said, Google TV is just a way to use one’s TV as a computer and should be treated as such.
Even so, it’s a devil’s bargain to cross the country’s most powerful broadcasters at a time when they are trying to plot their own courses in providing content online. Diplomacy is required.
Check back this weekend at eWEEK.com, where we will be testing the Logitech Revue companion box running Google TV.