Google lines up Internet TV programming partners(update)


SAN FRANCISCO: Google Inc.'s effort to wed Web surfing with television viewing is gathering more support from major media outlets that distribute some of the content that will help sell the concept.

The list of participating television programmers announced Monday by Google includes household staples such as TBS, TNT, CNN and HBO, which are all owned by Time Warner Inc.

The technology, known as Google TV, also will offer features from the NBA, the financial news channel CNBC and popular Internet video services operated by Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc.

The Google TV options from Amazon's digital video store and Netflix's movie subscription service mirror features already available on an array of other devices that connect to televisions.

The short-message service Twitter and several music sites, including Vevo, Pandora and Napster, have also designed features especially for Google TV.

But the four major broadcast networks — CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox — still haven't embraced Google TV, with the technology scheduled to debut in Best Buy's U.S. stores later this month. Documents posted on the Internet indicate that flat-panel sets and other devices equipped with Google TV will go on sale Oct. 17, but the company hasn't confirmed that date.

In a blog post, Google said it is still in talks with a variety of unnamed parties and predicted more content partnerships will be cemented in the coming weeks.

"We're really excited about the enthusiasm surrounding the platform and can't wait for it to reach your living room," wrote Ambarish Kenghe, a Google TV product manager.

Gaining the backing of the major broadcast networks and other powerful players is proving to be difficult because some executives fear Google TV could tip the balance of power to the Internet's most powerful company.

Google believes its technology will make it easier to surf the Web while watching the television on the same big screen. If Google succeeds in that ambition, it could also help the company achieve its goal of expanding its domination of the online ad market into television.

Even if the major TV networks don't cooperate with Google TV, people using the technology should still be able to watch programming from those outlets through cable or satellite connections.

But that would be less convenient than if the big networks set up websites that would enable Google TV users to stream programming from their favorite shows whenever they wanted to watch it. And it would be more cumbersome to search for programming from the big networks on Google TV without their cooperation.

Those stumbling blocks would presumably discourage some people from buying Google TV.

Sony Corp. is making the first flat-panel sets equipped with Google TV and Logitech International SA is making the devices that will enable the technology to work on existing sets. - AP

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