As we all know by now all of the four major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) and Viacom (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon etc) are blocking access to their internet streams to Google TV devices. There are two primary reasons for this, the first is a conern about piracy that Disney echoed by Disney’s television chief Anne Sweeney. The second is monetization. The networks want to make sure they get their cut of the Google TV pie.
Google has been making moves to both satisfy the networks and beef up its content. It was widely reported last week that Google was looking to purchase the entire catalog of Miramax (also owned by Disney), presumably to offer content to Google TV purchasers. They’ve also started doing consumer customized channels and added youtube as a “network” option.
Google has also announced via their blog that they have acquired Widevine Technologies. Widevine’s specialty is digital content management and security. Widevine’s website says that for years they’ve been providing digital entertainment content, providing optimization and content protection.
Though this new acquisition we can safely bet that Widevine’s engineers will be working on ways to protect the content streamed to Google TV devices and preventing the unauthorized downloading, and sharing of that content. This addresses one of the biggest issues Google TV has run into with network executives. The other part of the piracy puzzle is that some network executives, Sweeney included, feel that Google hasn’t done enough to protect Google TV users from pirate, or torrent sites.
Woodvine is also said to be helping Google with their Youtube rental store plans.
Ted Sarandos, the person in charge of acquiring content for Netflix, told CNet’s Greg Sandoval that studios were overly concerned with protecting their content and that the concern didn’t always match the threat. Whether that statement holds true is a matter of opinin, however the acquisition of Woodvine can only be seen as a great thing for Google.