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Google TV is what independent filmmakers have been waiting for

05.20.10 @ 3:30PM Tags : , , ,

Google just announced Google TV, a device/spec that obliterates the line between “TV” and “computer.” Suddenly it’s going to be a lot easier to get content from around the web onto your TV — because your TV has full access to the web. Sure, some TVs and devices support limited web functionality today, but with Google TV it will no longer be a matter of which widgets your set-top box or Blu-ray player supports, because Google TV is a full operating system (powered by Android) that can access any website (including Flash-based content) and run applications (from day one, you’ll be able to run Android apps like Pandora). While I think there will be problems with how the OS organizes this wealth of content, the fact is that Google TV is going to make it a lot easier to get independently-produced content onto the big (home) screen. Video and analysis after the jump:

The problem with the Apple TV is it is closed. Basically Apple is just selling you a box that you pay for the privilege of using to buy more stuff through Apple. iTunes is a walled-off store that’s blockbuster-oriented (only recently has Distribber stepped up to the plate to make it easier to get indie content into iTunes, but it’s still not a cakewalk). Google TV, on the other hand, will pull content from all around the web indiscriminately, listing independently-produced content alongside releases from walled-off stores that only sell studio films.

This is going to be huge for YouTube Rentals, because now the consumer is paying to rent something on their TV very similarly to how they would through a VOD cable channel. Much of the reason YouTube Rentals hasn’t taken off to date is because people do not want to pay money to stream something over Flash video on their computer; they’re used to that being a free viewing experience. Which is totally reasonable, since the quality isn’t that high and the screen isn’t that large. But combined with Google’s efforts to release VP8 as a royalty-free video codec (even if it might have some issues), Google TV should bypass Flash (similarly to how YouTube uses h.264 for iPhone and iPad viewing) and allow the quality of a YouTube Rental to match the quality of, say, Netflix’s HD streaming, which is pretty damn good as long as the connection is sound. Additionally, YouTube is launching YouTube Leanback, a new interface designed for the TV. I suspect and hope that, for independent filmmakers, this will be a BFD, because now all a TV-watcher has to do is call up the Google search box:

“Mother’s Day MILF” is listed right there in the search results, and I’m guessing that’s not because it’s a $300 million FOX film in 3D. No, it’s listed there because of a search algorithm, which is much more democratic in enabling audiences to find content than, say, a curated page in iTunes. Using Google search, audiences can find our films, and immediately click “rent” or “buy” — all on their TV. This means, now more than ever, search engine optimization (SEO) for a project is of paramount importance. Hell, audiences can even tether their Android phone to Google TV and just say our film’s title using voice search. More on SEO in the days to come.

The proof, of course, is in the pudding, so when Google TV comes out in Fall 2010 (it will be on set-top boxes, built into TVs, and integrated into other devices like Blu-ray players and (hopefully) game consoles), we’ll know more. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s full of bugs and not nearly as refined from a user experience standpoint as an Apple product — just like the first version of Android wasn’t that great. But then Google released a huge update with Android 2.0 and now Android phones might be outselling iPhones. The difference here? Google TV will outsell Apple TV from the day it comes out, because Apple TV isn’t very popular. And while Apple TV was largely meaningless for independent filmmakers, because of its openness Google TV is the concept we’ve been waiting for.

Link: Google TV Combines TV, Android and All of the Internet – Gizmodo

[search image courtesy TechCrunch]


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Description image 24 COMMENTS

  • You need more readers. This post should have comments

  • I wonder how long until this shuts down Roku, Boxee, etc

    • Presumably the next versions of Roku etc. will integrate Google TV; of course, this begs the question of what they can offer in addition to the base gTV spec. Personally I think Google TV will only be on set-top boxes at first, as it will be on more and more TVs and other multifunction devices like Blu-ray players — why buy a separate box?

  • This is great news…yet another Google bomb changing the way things are done. I try not to be overly optimistic about the good intentions of any company, but it does seem, over and over, that Google really does understand that the only way they can succeed is by making what is best for the end-user their chief criteria. With a player like Google in the game, a product that doesn’t have the end-user’s best interests as its main criteria (a product such as Apple TV, for example) is doomed to fail.

    -> Brand, FWIW, @Boxee just tweeted this, “watched the Google TV demo. more complementary than competitive. we should start working on Boxee Android App for TV… :)”

  • You should check out Bob Cringely’s blog about what he thinks is the future of TV. I’d like to read your comments about that. Thanks for keeping your blog up to date, great read!

    • Thanks for the link David, great read. Fundamentally I COMPLETELY disagree with Bob, because he seems to think the future of TV is going back to the broadcast model, and I believe (with a few exceptions, like live sports) it’s all about on-demand and asynchronous viewing. A lot of the commenters on his post have said the same!

      One of his commenters spotlighted exactly what I find depressing about “old” TV: “I think you’re spot on with this. I don’t watch a lot of TV. When I do, it’s usually because I’m tired and bored. I want to be entertained. I don’t want to choose. I just just want to turn on the TV and watch.”

      There will always be those kinds of viewers, but I doubt as independent filmmakers those are the viewers we’re going after.

  • More on gTV from Mashable and TechCrunch:

    “Maybe the point is to finally bring this technology — which until very, very recently existed only in the niches of the consumer electronics industry — to the mainstream.”

    “So why is it a threat to cable providers? Simple. Who wants to pay for two pipes?”

  • Also –

    Google TV Vs. Apple TV Is Android Vs. iPhone Round 2

    Read more:

  • So I guess my question is:
    The set top box will connect to my ISP thru my broadband modem(DSL)?
    Then I can get rid of my $800+/year satellite box?

    • That’s the idea. In practice you’ll probably lose access to a lot of content (not to mention the quality disparity), but I’ve never paid for Cable or Satellite TV in my life, and Google TV means I never will…

  • great read…I think this is the way TV needs to go. They’ve always talked about doing channels a la carte, or in packages, but how to do it without ruffling feathers and still providing users with channels they would like. Although this would be a blow to broadcasters it’s great for users and will be interesting to see how this will change company mergers within media.

  • Another interesting take, entitled “Why Google TV isn’t the answer”:

    “If Google TV reigns supreme, television, much like the internet, will transform into a battleground of black and white hat SEO, duking it out over PageRank, trying to secure that coveted first page Google TV search result.

    That’s a result that will inherently diminish the value of quality content. The combination of increased competition for eyeballs and advertising revenue spread out over a larger universe of content, all controlled by one company, will threaten the livelihood of professional content creators.”

    Not sure I agree with that — it could have a Hulu-like effect on studio-produced content (lowering expected prices), but I still think for indies this is an opportunity.

  • Um, no it isn’t just google and Roku. Yahoo TV widgets are going to be standard equipment on TV’s from Samsung, LG, Visio and Sony from the factory.

    In addition, what is going to make consumers find (and then pay to watch) independent films in large numbers?

    Sure they can buy a DVD and pay per view/VOD is great as a second choice but unless there is a way to allow consumers to watch indie films for free (just like on regular TV) there isn’t going to be a huge increase in viewers for most films.

    • There is no magic bullet. Nothing’s going to sell films by itself. The idea with Google TV or any “open” platform is to allow us to convert audience interest into actual sales and views. No matter what happens in the distribution space, it will always be up to us to drum up audience interest. That’s our job.