Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Last week, I told you about Google’s reboot of its internet-connected TV (named, appropriately, Google TV). A software update made Google TV easier to use, and added an element of a “leanback” experience to watching YouTube channels, among other things.

The Wall Street Journal is now reporting an even more intriguing move that the search giant is mulling in the TV space. Google is apparently looking beyond internet-connected TVs–which most often complements traditional cable–and thinking about hopping into the cable business itself. That’s right: if the WSJ’s sources aren’t hallucinating or lying, then Google could be considering going head-to-head with cable providers like AT&T and Comcast.

If it happens, it would happen first in Kansas City, the city which Google has chosen to pilot Google Fiber, which the Kansas City Star describes as “the California-based Internet behemoth’s plan to connect virtually every home with fiber optic cables,” glass wires that can funnel more data than coaxial cables or telephone wires (a gigabit per second for uploads and downloads; in other words, orders of magnitudes faster than what you’re currently operating with). Google has largely kept mum about its plans in Kansas City since first announcing last spring that it had chosen the city as its test site (it will be laying fiber optic cables in both Kansas City, MO, and Kansas City, KS). And Google is still keeping mum; it’s only response to the Journal’s story was to say, “We’re still exploring what product offerings will be available when we launch Google Fiber.”

Does the leap into cable TV make sense? It certainly could be lucrative–Mashable points out that Google could sell not only cable subscriptions but also advertisements distributed on its channels. But obviously, it’s all something that’s easier said than done (and, to judge from Google’s silence, isn’t even easily said). As MediaBeat reminds us, “To become a full-fledged paid TV operator, Google will need more than a handful of partners on-board. Those negotiations may be difficult, since many content providers spurned Google last year by blocking access to Google TV on their websites.” Google’s undoubtedly getting better at negotiating with content providers, though; it recently announced that it’d be launching dozens of new YouTube channels featuring original content, backed by the likes of Jay-Z and Amy Poehler. If Google’s learning to become a media company, couldn’t it learn to become a cable company, too?

“Wonderful things happen when cool technology meets great entertainment,” Google’s Global Head of Content Partnerships, Robert Kyncl, wrote in late October. Though you have to wonder how “wonderful” that convergence seems to Time Warner Cable, which currently serves cable to the Kansas City area.

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Web

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me