Google (GOOG) is changing the channel on its Google TV service, offering its set-top box through Sony Europe. Currently, Google TV is available on LG TV sets that retail for more than $1,000, but Google’s NSZ-GS7 set-top box, first introduced in January, will be a much less expensive way to put Google content on TV sets. Sony will offer the NSZ-GS7 set-top box with remote for $200. It is currently available for pre-order.
Bringing the Internet to the big screen is a goal for Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) as well as Google, but since Google owns YouTube as well as the world’s most popular search engine, it may have an advantage. The company says its TV service offers 100,000 movies and TV episodes on demand, plus thousands of YouTube channels.
Apple has approached Internet TV from the opposite direction. A box that connects iOS devices to TV sets has been available for some time, but the industry is waiting for a TV set that uses Apple’s iOS operating system. Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn has purchased a 10% stake in Sharp, an Apple supplier and of course a major manufacturer of televisions, highlighting Apple’s ambitions to extend its reach beyond mobile devices and computers.
The marriage of traditional TV and the Internet has been a long time coming, but if Google, Apple and Amazon succeed in finally putting both media on one popular device, they could significantly change the advertising landscape. Last year U.S. advertisers spent about twice as much on TV ads as on online ads, according to EMarketer, and analysts disagree about when and if online spending will catch up. But it may not matter. If online video becomes part of Americans’ TV viewing experience, the line between online ads and TV ads will blur.
As the Internet becomes more available on television, programmers and advertisers will almost certainly migrate. Today Fox Sports Florida is airing the Miami Heat’s victory parade live on its local affiliate, but Fox will reach millions more through its livestream. The big question is how long it will be before viewers of an event broadcast on a national TV network are outnumbered by viewers of the same event on the Internet.
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