Following in the footsteps of ABC, CBS and NBC, Fox has become the fourth major US network to block its programming from access through Google TV. The move comes at the time when both Sony and Logitech are rolling out their first Google TV products for the holiday season.
Hulu has also blocked access to its service, which means that US users of Google TV will not be able to access any major US shows and series on their TV set.
Google said it is negotiating with the networks to resolve the issue. The question might not just be about financial compensation from Google, as there are increasing worries about cord cutting and growing dissatisfaction with the networks’ affiliate stations.
US cable customers say their are now canceling their cable service. A recent poll by Harris Interactive showed that, in order to cut costs, 22% of all people interviewed said they have cut their cord. When people get to see their favourite TV series on digital terrestrial and their catch-up on Hulu and OTT services, they see little added value to their cable subscription. And when they want premium movies, they subscribe to Netflix.
Prices of cable subscriptions in the US have risen to great heights, with basic digital cable starting at $49.95 (€36.50) a month and triple play from $124.85 (€91) (examples are Time-Warner Cable for the first 12 months). So money might be the major reason for cutting the cord rather than the availability of OTT services.
On the other hand, there is growing unrest with the local affiliates of US networks, who pay for the right to carry the networks, who see that programming they pay for is freely available on video portals on the internet.
These two issues will complicate matters for any agreement between content owners an Google TV. As things stand now, Google – and its partners Sony and Logitech – will need the help of the networks more than the other way around.