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Microsoft and Comcast recently announced that Xbox Live users will now be able to stream on-demand Comcast Xfinity content through their gaming consoles. It’s been insinuated by some that Microsoft is making some form of payment to Comcast for the deal.
This doesn’t seem outlandish. The 20 million paying Xbox Live users (out of 66 million Xbox 360 units sold) now spend slightly more time streaming content than they do playing video games. Microsoft will keep stoking this trend, pushing its hardware further into the profitable mainstream of entertainment content consumption.
But, will the Xbox grow up to become a more dominant mode of delivery?
Google TV, the search giant's ambitious initiative to change the face of television, is one of the more recent attempts at finally delivering on the promise of television-web convergence. When it launched almost two years ago, it appeared that the timing for this long-discussed convergence could finally be right.
But despite initial appearances that Google was making the right moves, Google TV has struggled.
Social TV is going to change the way we interact with everything. If you don’t think it’s coming, you're going to be in for a bumpy ride.
Contrary to popular opinion, NBC's Senior VP of Digital Jesse Redniss stated "GoogleTV is not social TV." He put YouTube in the same category as in his opinion they are mostly ways to highlight videos and consume content.
So what is social TV?
Google TV apps are failing to attract downloads in large numbers, according to data from app search firm Xyologic.
The company has been tracking Google TV since August 2011 and since then 64 exclusive apps for the platform have been added.
These apps have a total install base of 4,793,000, but 4,441,000 of these were pre-installed on the devices, meaning that only 352,000 exclusive Google TV apps have been downloaded so far.
As we don’t know what Google’s download targets were when they launched the device we don’t know for certain whether this represents a failure, but it does suggest that the apps are struggling to find a market.
A year and a half ago, Google announced Google TV, an initiative that, on the surface, looked like it had the potential to finally deliver the television-web convergence that has been envisioned for so long.
Trying to bringing the power of the internet, along with its own Android platform, to the small screen, "might be one of the most important things the company has attempted", I wrote at the time. And for a short while, it seemed to be off to a promising start.
When it comes to the mediums that it plays in, Google could sit back and remain content with its strong position on the desktop and mobile devices.
But as successful as it is, the company stiill sees opportunity to create a bigger footprint.
One of the mediums in which it's hoping its footprint can extend: television.
Despite Google’s best efforts, online TV services are still encountering significant opposition from traditional broadcasters, with many routinely blocking services in favour of directing users to their own websites.
The effectiveness (not to mention long-term business sense) of this may be questionable, but the fact remains that broadcasters are loathe to relinquish control of lucrative cable package services to third party providers.
This might be about to change however, with Microsoft announcing their desire to become more heavily involved in TV using a more traditional platform model.
Market watchers have been touting the convergence of internet and TV services for many years, but it seems that the technology is finally getting the push that it needs.
And there are no surprises for guessing which company is at the heart of it.
Like many newspaper conglomerates, Gannett has struggled with "going digital" in the midst of dwindling print revenues. As VP and GM of the Gannett Digital Media Network (GDN) Josh Resnik's job is to help ensure that the company's transition to digital is a lucrative one.
GDN encompasses the flagship USAToday.com and all of Gannett’s local newspaper and TV station websites. We caught up with Resnik to get a read on how GDN is handling increased competition on the local ad front, what the company thinks about iAds, and even a glimpse into the crystal ball for 2011.
The battle to bring the internet to the small screen is heating up. And the fight to control when and how the internet is brought to the small screen is heating up too.
After finding Google TV blocked by a number of television networks, a Google product manager for Google TV recently stated that the company hasn't done a good enough job communicating what the product is to content owners. And it doesn't seem to be improving in that effort.
With movies from Netflix, games from ESPN, music from Last.fm, and status updates from Twitter, Microsoft has evolved the Xbox 360 into a premium content delivery device, not just a game console. Now, with its new Kinect motion-controller system, the company has the means to turn the Xbox 360 into a hyper-targeted ad platform.
After all, Kinect can recognize different users by their faces.
Google TV may be the search giant's most ambitious initiative yet, but its success is far from guaranteed. While the time seems right for television-internet convergence, making it happen is going to be hard work.
One of the biggest difficulties Google has with Google TV is getting content owners on board. Recently, a number of American television networks, namely ABC, CBS and NBC, blocked consumers from accessing video content on their websites through Google TV.