Google has added interactive content from the Discovery Channel and other providers to popular geospatial software Google Earth.

The overlays can be accessed by clicking a box in the software’s sidebar, and support videos, photos, RSS feeds and blogs.

The Discovery Channel, for example, is offering video segments about landmarks, cities and tourist attractions around the world – a move it started on a more limited basis in April.

Google Earth Featured Content is a way for Google to connect users with really compelling, high-quality information being illustrated and shared on Google Earth,” said John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps.

Other pilot partners include National Geographic, the National Park Service; the Jane Goodall Institute; and travel information provider Turn Here.

The UN’s Environmental Programme is also providing before and after images of 100 areas affected by environmental damage.

The move comes as geospatial software applications are being seen as a big new opportunity for content providers and advertisers.

In the coming months, Google says it expects to add more multimedia content to Google Earth, which has been downloaded more than 100 million times.

According to ZDNet, Microsoft also recently demonstrated a new feature for its MSN Virtual Earth software, which allows virtual cars to be driven through US cities, attracting the interest of car manufacturers and shop owners.