NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In May, Google announced its interactive TV platform that brings a search box, internet browser and apps to TV viewing, though it has kept quiet on what we can expect from the device. Now, weeks before it ships, Google has launched a website to outline the new features and its media partnerships. Here's what you need to know about Google TV:
Google has brick-and-mortar distribution.
Best Buy will carry Google TV Logitech set-top boxes, Sony TVs and Blu-ray players later this month. Brick-and-mortar distribution could mean Google TV will fare better than the company's last hardware release: Nexus One. After an online-only marketing and distribution strategy that failed to capture share for the Google-branded Android phone, the smartphone has since been discontinued. Not only does Google TV have Best Buy -- the retailer showcased Google TV at its holiday preview event in New York last week -- Sony and Logitech have already started to advertise the hardware. Even Google is stepping a bit out of its advertising comfort zone -- its new website for TV is a lot Flashier and product-focused than the company's usual bare-bones blogs. It even bought prints ads in the New York Times today for launch.
Media companies are taking sides: It's Apple vs. Google again.
Google TV has launched with a slew of media partners, including CNBC, NBA, Turner Broadcasting and HBO, though major broadcast networks were missing in this first-round announcement. At its launch, Apple TV announced deals with ABC and Fox, to make their TV shows available for 99-cent rental through iTunes. Google TV has been able to win over networks such as Turner and NBC Universal that were reportedly skeptical of Apple's rental proposition last month.
Time Warner's TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim are embracing it. Meanwhile, just last week Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes slammed Apple's ploy to get media companies to rent shows for 99-cents through iTunes at a conference in London. "How can you justify renting your first-run TV shows individually for 99 cents an episode and thereby jeopardize the sale of the same shows to branded networks that pay hundreds of millions of dollars?" he asked, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
That networks are picking Google could be more an endorsement of what the device actually does. Apple TV lets viewers watch their iTunes content on TV -- there are no content apps -- while Google has opened a way for broadcasters to build apps for TV. Google TV will ship pre-loaded with an NBC Universal app: CNBC Real-Time. The app will overlay personalized stock information and financial news to the right of a live TV window. The NBA has also launched an app for game stats and footage. Like Turner, HBO has launched a website, HBO Go with more than 600 hours of programming.
Google TV is not just about video.
Google has also been working with news sites The New York Times and USA Today and music sites Vevo, Pandora and Napster. Even Twitter will have a Google TV app.
Google TV could make social TV mass, but not until next year.
Google will open the platform up to developers next year, meaning an app store for TV is coming soon. This could be a boon for social TV apps like Miso, Philo, Starling and the rest, which are currently building up social TV experiences in mobile apps. What's more, Google TV will let viewers use their smart phones as remote controls -- with phone that talk to what's on screen, social TV startups have yet another way to hitch social media to TV viewing.
There are no ads, at least not yet.
Google TV will not support advertising yet; figuring out the platform and viewer experience comes first, a company spokeswoman told Ad Age at the Best Buy event last week. CNBC, too, has no immediate plans to sell advertising in its Google TV app, said Scott Drake, VP-CNBC Digital -- though it's a possibility if things go well.
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