Google TV: Good for Cable?


The Google TV box could be
a very cool and hopefully inexpensive
gaming console. That is where the
money will be.
What about TV?

The success of Google TV will come
down to one thing … PageRank. Can
you imagine the white-hat and blackhat
SEO battles that will take
place as video content providers
try to get to the top of
the TV Search Listings on
Google TV? Like Google said,
there are 4 billion TVs and
growing, and the U.S. TV ad
market is $70 billion. There
is a lot at stake if Google TV
takes off . How Google does
its PageRank for this product
will have a bigger impact
on the success of the product
in the TV market than anything
else it does.

If you search for “House”
on your Google TV, and it returns
a YouTube video of some kid doing
a parody of the Fox TV show House,
you can bet the s--t is going to hit the
fan. Not that Fox or any big media company
would sue Google. I don’t think
they would. What would happen is
that they would “turn off ” the Google
TV Chrome Browser, just as they did to
Boxee. They would fight and possibly
sue over what metadata is used to determine
search results. It would be a mess.
That would kill the product because if
it doesn’t work with the TV shows you
want to watch, why buy it?

On the flip side, if the best Google offers
users is what they showed in today’s
demo — returning five or fewer results
from a search with content from the
cable or satellite provider showing first
and possibly consuming all five results
— every Internet content creator is going
to scream loud and long at Google
for putting them at a disadvantage.

No one is going to be able to find your
video if you show traditional TV shows
first and don’t show more than five results.
They aren’t going to be satisfied
with referrals or Google Suggestions as
their only access to Google TV users.
They are going to claim that this is all
just a ruse to get them to advertise and
that Google sold out to big media.

Even if Google lets the user decide
how to rank results, it creates
too much risk for TV
content providers and their
distributors. More mess.

On the other other side,
if traditional TV makes it to
the top, Google TV would be
the best thing to ever happen
to cable, satellite and
telco TV providers.

Why? Google just solved
their biggest problems: their
user interface and programming
guide. Not only that, if
Google TV is what big content
providers and distributors
consider to be a good
partner, they just off loaded much of the
future R&D for the set-top box to Google
and its partners and developers.

Should cable companies adopt Android
on their set-top boxes ? They will
watch and decide. Even better for the
TV providers, maximum utility from
the Google TV comes from having a TV
subscription. They may actually gain
subscribers as a result of this product.
Which is exactly why Charlie Ergen had
Dish Network participate. It’s win-winwin
for Dish Network.

Google TV isn’t the answer. It’s the
question. I’m sure Apple, Microsoft and
even Facebook have an opinion on the
announcement. Their responses will be
even more interesting.

The future of TV is … TV. But Google
sure sped up the timeline today.

Mark Cuban is chairman of HD Net and
a new-media entrepreneur. This piece
originally appeared on Cuban’s blog,