Advanced Television

Google TV: We are not about cord cutting!

February 16, 2011

From Nick Snow @ Cable Congress

In a ‘read my lips’ moment here at Cable Congress, Donagh O’Mally, Head of Partnerships UK, Ireland and Benelux for YouTube, declared: “Google TV is not about cord cutting. Anyone who cancels pay-TV to get Google TV is going to be disappointed.”

That promise didn’t entirely convince all members of the following panel on ‘How content finds an audience’. In previous sessions, delegates have been told OTT – and Google TV in particular – represent ‘an existential threat’ and, at the same time, they have been exhorted to ‘embrace the beast.’

Seeing the threat clearly, Rodrigo Costa, CEO of Portugal’s Zon, recognised “we are content brokers and we have to win the battle to continue to be that.” He described his own company’s investment in its network – 350MB available to 95 per cent of it – and the recent introduction of the Snowflake UI. He also noted that the pay-TV model has worked extremely well for all parties and the real danger of OTT was to content companies and the potentially much less certain revenue models feeding back into a vicious circle that would produce poorer content.

Paul Robinson, CEO of KidsCo, agreed and said, “it’s all about rights and providing an operator with the flexibility to exploit content in a way that pleases his customer. Pay-TV is a very good market for good content.”

Costa confirmed he would not ‘ban’ Google from his platform, “you can’t deny customers services they know exist and they want.” He also disavowed exclusive content deals; “these just force up prices and, again, alienate customers.” But he did call for equality of regulation, “I have to have a licence and pay taxes as a communications operator… countries need to adapt their legislation, otherwise it is unfair.”

Despite contending Google TV was not competition, O’Mally confirmed there would be a subscription model later this year (no prices available yet), but he maintained subscribers would pay for both – Google being about content discovery rather than packaging.

Others weren’t convinced, and though the cord-cutting statement was taken as true at one level – Google TV needs broadband networks for delivery, after all – many in the audience weren’t convinced. As a delegate from Axel Springer said, the elephant may be in the room, but the elephant is still in the room.

Categories: Broadband, Headline, OTT