Hulu isn’t the only online video site that’s blocking access from Google TV. ABC, NBC and CBS have restricted their websites too, Reuters reports.
Fox may follow, an anonymous source tells Reuters. Either way, this is devastating news for Google TV. One of the platform’s main draws, I suspect, is the ability to watch any web show on the big screen. There’s still plenty of content on the Internet that isn’t created by a major network, but without the heavy hitters, Google TV has little chance of disrupting cable. It’s certainly less attractive for would-be cord cutters.
I’m only sort of worried that this unified assault on Google TV sets a bad precedent for all set-top boxes. Hulu’s been blocked on other platforms, such as Boxee and Android phones, but the action by individual networks suggests that they’re making a desperate stand to defend cable, which pays lucrative licensing fees to networks.
On the other hand, blocking Google TV could be a one-time thing. As Gartner analyst Van Baker pointed out to Reuters, Google’s primary business on the Internet, and all the platforms that deliver it, is advertising. Television networks rely on web video advertising for revenue, so while blocking Hulu might be an attempt to push people towards Hulu Plus subscriptions, blocking individual networks might be a way to keep Google out of television ad sales.
In other words, watch what happens when the Boxee Box arrives next month. If ABC, NBC and CBS disappear from that set-top, you’ll know the networks aren’t just terrified of Google, but of cord-cutting in general.