Networks Blocking Google TV Users. Great Idea if They’re Looking for More Competition!

The networks are blocking user from viewing their shows on Google TV.  I get it.  They are afraid of loosing ad revenue.  But blocking thier content on Google TV is NOT the way to handle it.  You’d think the networks would have learned from their content brethren — the music industry and the book publishers — trying fight the change is NOT  a viable strategy.

The Networks own the content, but they don’t have a lock on it and that is the problem.   By blocking their content networks are doing two things; 1) they are telling their customers what device they can watch their programming.  I find that offensive.  Don’t tell me it’s OK to watch your shows on my computer, but that I CAN’T watch them on MY TV.  Networks own the content, they don’t own my TV.  2)  The networks are CREATING, yes I said creating a new market, that will absolutely cause them to lose EXACTLY what it is their fighting to prevent.   This new market will be for non-network programming that is entertaining, compelling and interesting.   Think HBO for the Internet.  If Google TV can hang on despite the network blockage, new upstart content providers will scurry in to fill the void left by the blockage, as GoogleTV viewers will have less competition for their viewing time.

Imagine if a company called IBO (Internet Box Office) begins to create content as good and compelling as anything the networks are doing.  All of a sudden, Google TV and it’s viewers have less need for the networks content.  The success of an Internet content provider will bring more players to the space.  Overtime, viewers will have a choice, network TV via traditional cable OR Internet TV via Google TV and others.

This train has left the station, even if you can still see it from the platform, it ain’t coming back.  Internet TV is coming.  The networks can’t slow it down just so they can figure out how to protect themselves.  The worse thing the networks can do is take their content and go home.   It’s a short term response that may win a few battles but will not win the war.   Blocking content will only make things worse as it will open the door for competitors.  It lowers the barrier to entry for Internet TV because it reduces choice.  There has always been and always be an inverse relationship with choice and opporutnity; the less choice, the greater the market opportunity, the more choice, the less market opportunity.

The networks should flood Google TV with all their programing.  They should bring their audience to Internet TV.   Don’t give smaller players a window to compete.  While they’re  flooding Internet TV with their content they should be creating new models that work in the new world of Internet TV.  Not to do this is suicide.  Internet TV can’t be stopped.   Networks need to accept it, embrace it and win in the new game.  Refusing to play doesn’t stop the game, it just gives those who aren’t in the game a chance to get in the game.

The networks have the book to read.  It’s the one the music industry and the publishing industry wrote.  Their book reads like an epic tragedy.  It doesn’t have to be like this for the networks, yet I fear it will be.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, you can’t stop the game by refusing to play.  Keep playing and figure out how to win it.  If you don’t someone else will.  That’s a FACT.

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