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.

Yesterday, FOX joined the list of major content owners blocking Google TV; if you want to view full episodes of Fox.com video content via Google TV, you’re out of luck. This, of course, deals another blow to Google. If the company is unable to come to terms with major content owners, it’s unclear just how many more blows Google TV can take before the product with so much potential loses most of that potential.

But Google TV’s woes aren’t deterring others from following in Google’s footsteps. Upstart Boxee is trying to make a big splash in the same market with its global launch of the Boxee Box. Like Google TV devices, the Boxee Box is designed to bring internet content to your television and shares many features similar to those offered by Google TV.

And like Google TV, Boxee’s CEO, Avner Ronen, expects that major content owners, particularly television owners, will look to block the Boxee Box. But that doesn’t appear to bother him. He told TechCrunch, “Our view is that ultimately it does not make sense for content owners
to discriminate based on browsers and screen size. It is an endless
battle.

Ronen may very well be right, but being right isn’t always the foundation for success. Like Google, Ronen believes that Boxee can work with content owners to help them charge for their content. He says that next year his company will offer a payment solution that he believes “will be part of the solution.” But will major content owners take the bait? Perhaps, but here too, Ronen is making the same mistake Google made: his company is going to be negotiating after the fact.

The reality is that Google, Boxee and most of the other players in this space don’t have much leverage. If consumers aren’t able to access the content they want via Google TV, the Boxee Box, etc., generating mainstream demand for these products will be tough. Without such demand, major content owners will negotiate for access to their content from a position of power.

From this perspective, Steve Jobs might just might prove his prescience once again. But even if Jobs is right, he like Ronen, might find that his own product (Apple TV) isn’t any better off because of it.

Photo credit: Programa Novo via Flickr.