Amid all the discussion around Google TV’s role in the living room, one critical point is often overlooked. Above all else, the platform is a content management system. It doesn’t change or replace the value of current pay-TV subscriptions from cable and telco service providers. Pay-TV providers offer premium content supported by a well-established revenue model enabling big studios to make big-production shows. Google’s goal is to help consumers manage that content along with content from the web.
Now here’s the kicker. Pay-TV providers have the same goal. They want to add web-based content to their platforms and weave it all together in one user interface. They also want to offer converged services that bridge both types of content, personalized applications to solve the content overload problem, and remote support capabilities that help consumers manage all the devices that might hang off of this upgraded platform in the home. If that sounds like a lot, it is. But pay-TV providers have two major assets to start with. One is their premium content. And the second is their existing presence in consumer homes.
Over-the-top applications like Google TV are a great catalyst for cable and telco providers. They’re a strong nudge that says to providers that they better get moving on the innovation front. The nice thing is, the providers are paying attention. It’s why there’s been so much interest in Motorola’s Medios suite of software. There’s still a lot of work for providers to do, but they know what that work is, and why it needs to be done. Two things will determine the winners in the living-room wars over the next decade: content and content management.