Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Could Your Next Cable Company Be Google?

The search giant considers bringing its gigantism to a realm beyond search: cable TV.
November 8, 2011

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.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

2021 tech fails concept
2021 tech fails concept

The worst technology of 2021

Face filters, billionaires in space, and home-buying algorithms that overpay all made our annual list of technology gone wrong.

glacier near Brown Station
glacier near Brown Station

The radical intervention that might save the “doomsday” glacier

Researchers are exploring whether building massive berms or unfurling underwater curtains could hold back the warm waters degrading ice sheets.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

In a further blow to the China Initiative, prosecutors move to dismiss a high-profile case

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.