Google is still in the bidding for Hulu, but it’s trying to structure a larger and different kind of deal than the other companies in the running.What is Google thinking?
One possible clue comes from Kansas City.
Google is building out a super-fast fibre optic network in Kansas City, Kansas, and is following it with a rollout in the bigger Kansas City across the state line in Missouri.
But as Scott Canon writes in the Kansas City Star, Google will have to pry customers away from Time Warner and AT&T, who bundle their Internet service with TV.
Google doesn’t have any TV service today.
But if it buys Hulu, and manages to carve out special exceptions, it could suddenly be delivering high-definition, on-demand TV content over a dedicated fibre network.
In other words, Google would not just be delivering TV over the Internet. It would be delivering TV directly to customers’ homes via fibre — making it an IPTV provider. Like AT&T is doing with U-Verse, for instance.
Recall that Google is also in the process of buying Motorola — which currently provides digital set-top boxes to TV providers. That could fit right into becoming an IPTV service.
There would have to be a lot more to a Google TV service than Hulu — customers also want live sports and other kinds of content. But buying Hulu would certainly be an interesting way to learn the video distribution game. Meanwhile, Google is also trying to fund original video content, and has already started showing live events via YouTube.
We all know that Larry Page likes to think big. Maybe he’s decided that the only way Google TV can get around the cable providers is if Google refuses to work with them at all.
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