A feisty Eric Schmidt fired back at the major broadcast networks over their reluctance to allow their content to be accessed via Google TV, implying that the execs simply don’t get the concept of Web-enabled television—and that fear was driving their decisions.
The Google CEO, speaking during a keynote interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, painted the broadcast network execs as protectionists wary of endangering their valuable assets—so much so that they were standing in the way of innovation.
Schmidt relayed the comments of one network executive in a slightly mocking voice, “Don’t you realize that you are taking a dumb TV and making it smarter?” Making TV smarter is a prospect Schmidt clearly doesn’t see as a negative.
“The concern is that the enormous revenue stream is going to be somehow affected by Google TV. I disagree,” he said. “People are going to watch more TV.”
Last month of course, Google rolled out Google TV, a platform designed to bring the Internet to TV screens. Consumers can either purchase set-top boxes to install the service, or purchase certain Sony TVs that come with Google TV built in.
So far, the major TV networks are not crazy about the idea of consumers streaming their top prime-time shows on their TVs rather than watching them as part of linear broadcasts.
Schmidt said the question facing the networks comes down to whether or not the networks believed their content would stand the test of a Web and TV merger. While some get hung up on the fear that premium TV content will be stolen—or even worse ignored—he argues that TV becomes a richer experience when married to the Internet.
One way TV becomes better, much like mobile phones did, is through applications, Schmidt argued. In fact, the potential for apps is a lucrative one, and maybe something that TV companies aren’t opening their eyes to.
“The way to create more revenue is to create more revenue streams,” he said.
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