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What Does Google TV Mean for The Cable Industry?

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Google announced yesterday that it plans to offer it’s new Google TV software for cable viewers with several well-known traditional and Internet content providers, including Turner Broadcasting, Netflix, blip.tv and Amazon On Demand. The technology will help to solve one of the biggest problems I see in cable television today – too many channels and no easy way to know what to watch on TV at a given time.  Google TV to the rescue.

Leveraging the company’s search technology, Google TV will help users easily find the cable channels they want to watch as well as online videos. Google’s Chrome browser will also be available so that users can surf the net on their televisions.

Many people will tell you it’s never good when a company like Google starts playing in your space. At Piehead, we don’t think cable companies should be worried just yet. Consumers want choice and convenience, which is what the cable companies bring to the table with years of relationships with major content partners like NBC, ABC and CBS as well as basic coaxial. While content providers will eventually hand over the goods, not everyone may have Internet in their homes, which puts a road block in front of Google TV. Statistics from the National Cable & Telecommunications Industry shows a difference of close to 20 million consumers who have just cable and no Internet.

The cable industry can’t rely on just the consumers who have cable to stay afloat, since one of its major selling points is offering bundled packages of cable, Internet and phone. The savings consumers get from these packages makes it hard to just go with cable or Internet – why not have them all for the same price? In addition, consumers get multiple entertainment experiences by having all three.

The communications industry, also known as MSO’s, is a well established group of companies that shouldn’t be worried about becoming obsolete. What these companies need to start thinking about is how the combination of Internet video and cable are going to co-exist in the near future and how their online strategies are going to evolve to keep cable top of mind with consumers. Do they have to focus more on engaging customers, offering better support or utilizing new social channels and features offered by location-based services?

What change does the cable industry need to make to co-exist with Internet video and stay relevant for consumers?

Author: Cody Barbierri is a social and digital media strategist for Piehead

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