No ABC, NBC or CBS Web Video for Google TV

By  |  Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Hulu isn’t the only online video site that’s blocking access from Google TV. ABC, NBC and CBS have restricted their websites too, Reuters reports.

Fox may follow, an anonymous source tells Reuters. Either way, this is devastating news for Google TV. One of the platform’s main draws, I suspect, is the ability to watch any web show on the big screen. There’s still plenty of content on the Internet that isn’t created by a major network, but without the heavy hitters, Google TV has little chance of disrupting cable. It’s certainly less attractive for would-be cord cutters.

I’m only sort of worried that this unified assault on Google TV sets a bad precedent for all set-top boxes. Hulu’s been blocked on other platforms, such as Boxee and Android phones, but the action by individual networks suggests that they’re making a desperate stand to defend cable, which pays lucrative licensing fees to networks.

On the other hand, blocking Google TV could be a one-time thing. As¬†Gartner analyst Van Baker pointed out to Reuters, Google’s primary business on the Internet, and all the platforms that deliver it, is advertising. Television networks rely on web video advertising for revenue, so while blocking Hulu might be an attempt to push people towards Hulu Plus subscriptions, blocking individual networks might be a way to keep Google out of television ad sales.

In other words, watch what happens when the Boxee Box arrives next month. If ABC, NBC and CBS disappear from that set-top, you’ll know the networks aren’t just terrified of Google, but of cord-cutting in general.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Big Dan Says:

    It's funny with all these set-top boxes coming to market still the best way to watch anything you want on your TV is by hooking up a regular old PC to it. I have a Mac Mini wired into my TV and can stream everything. I recently bought a Roku box and as much as I love it the PC is still much more convenient.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    I have a Logitech Revue here–I'm working on a review–and Comcast's Xfinity seems to work, including for Hulu content that's blocked on Hulu itself. But I'm not sure how exciting that news is: On my 42-inch TV, the Xfinity stuff is marginal in quality. It's clearly not meant for TV watching.

    Stay tuned for more thoughts…


  3. JaredNewman Says:

    I'd be pretty surprised if Xfinity got blocked. Comcast would be silly to target its paying customers.

  4. @markprestash Says:

    I've read in places that if you change the browser settings on Google TV devices from Chrome to "default" that the blocked content is then viewable.

  5. JaredNewman Says:

    The same trick let you get Hulu on Android for a limited time, but eventually the studios plugged it up. Not surprised to hear that the same thing has already happened for GTV.

  6. Harry McCracken Says:

    The changing-the-agent-string fix doesn't seem to be working anymore.

  7. Rick Says:

    I don't find myself watching ABC, NBC, or CBS very often. I'm usually watching cable stations, if I'm watching TV at all. In fact, of all the times I've been to Hulu, I don't think I've ever chosen a network program. I wonder if the major networks are cutting off their noses to spite their face?

    I guess that sort of access is more important for Google TV, or Apple TV, than it is for Hulu.

    Part of what I enjoy about Hulu is what I enjoy about the Internet in general – being exposed to thoughts and ideas that I don't get through traditional media. Network programming is about the last place I'd go for entertainment. I'd go to the library first. I suspect Google TV will have plenty of programming to interest me; the availability of network stations wouldn't make or break it for me. It's more about price than network content.