TV Networks Blocking Shows From Google TV’s Web Browser

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Well, that’s not good. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that ABC, CBS, and NBC are all blocking their own streaming TV content from playing inside the Google TV web browser. I can confirm that ABC and CBS are doing so, but I’m currently able to play NBC shows without any problems.

The website, which is jointly owned by the parent companies of ABC, NBC, and FOX, is also blocking Google TV, though FOX shows can still be directly streamed from the website.

Google issued the following statement regarding the matter:

“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 Journal contends that some media companies “are skeptical that Google can provide a business model that would compensate them for potentially cannibalizing existing broadcast businesses.”

This shows a fundamental misunderstanding about how Google TV works. Search results for stream-able network shows are handed off to the networks’ own websites, where videos play in the networks’ own video players, complete with the networks’ own ads. It’s the exact same experience as watching one of the shows from your computer while sitting at your desk.

It’d be like if you moved your computer into your living room, hooked it up to your TV, and got a message while trying to stream an episode of Modern Family that said: “Hello! We notice you’ve moved your computer from one room to another and you’re now sitting in a comfortable chair. Please move back to your home office to enjoy this program.”

It gets even more bizarre. According to the Journal:

“Some TV executives said they were worried their shows would be lost in the larger Internet. Some, including Disney and NBC, were also concerned about Google’s stance on websites that offer pirated content, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Disney executives, for example, asked that Google filter out results from pirate sites when users search for Disney content, like ‘Desperate Housewives.’ But they were unsatisfied with Google’s response, according to people familiar with the conversations.”

Google TV’s search results for TV shows direct people to a legitimate landing page that makes it easy to buy or stream episodes (with the networks’ own video players and ads). It also offers the option of searching the full internet for the show using the built-in Chrome web browser.

Again, it’s no different than searching the internet from behind a desk except that legitimate spots to buy or watch ad-supported episodes (the networks’ own ads, again) are highlighted. If anything, searching for shows through Google TV is much better for these media companies than searching for shows through a regular computer web browser. You can’t use BitTorrent with Google TV, so piracy’s going to be pretty tough.

Reuters reports that Google “is actively negotiating” with ABC, NBC, and CBS to restore access to the networks’ shows. If these negotiations fail, it could mean big, big trouble for Google TV.

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