Viacom Joins the Google TV Shakedown Squad
Damnit Viacom. Damnit. Why? All of you bastards for that matter, why? How did this even start? I’ll offer my theory in the form of a screenplay.
Scene: There’s some douchebag at one of these networks. Yes I realize there are plenty of such douchebags; I’m talking about one in particular. After first reading about Google TV and thinking “Hmm, that’s interesting,” a big light bulb appears above his head momentarily and he dashes into the office of the network’s top brass, managing to sit a couple higher-ups down.
Douchebag: You men hear about this Google TV thing? Yeah, right, like Apple TV but it does more stuff including Flash on its somewhat full-featured browser. Right, web browser on the television. I don’t know, maybe some sort of keyboard. Well yeah, kind of like Roku, but Google. Check this out. Let’s just friggin’ block Google TV devices from streaming video on our site with a message simply stating that their device is not supported. Just like that. Bam.
Suit #1: But why? Are they stripping out our advertisements or adding their own or hurting our servers? No? Are fewer eyes going on our content and ads as a result of this Google TV?
Suit #2: Actually because of how the Search magnifying glass thing digs through, in addition to the Internet, live television listings specific to each person’s array of channels by my math I’m anticipating a net gain between both web and television viewership, like a general content discovery augmentation. People will be on the couch more and they will be more deeply engaged both to the content and to the ads. This is pretty cool, think I’ll get my kid one of these and ask Google if there’s anything we can do to help optimize this or take friendly advice from them on how to further monetize this than we already are.
Suit #1: Man I love Google. The everyone-wins company. Okay so why would we screw them and their apparently harmless venture by blocking our content from hitting the Google TVs? Says here on my iPad that Google TV users can’t even install that AdBlock thing, not to mention the marketing guys have been telling me about how the website viewership has been helping us promote our various programming. I mean, aren’t we instructing our news anchors to plug the website every chance they get for a well-thought-out reason?
Douchebag: Because if we do this, it will make the news, news watched (if not produced) by the other networks who, like our company, have their own douchebags who think this is a good idea like I do, we will all in perfect alignment to stop Google and their big plans dead in their tracks left with nothing but bad reviews about the various devices’ usability and much more notably their inability to get content from pretty much everyone except Youtube.
Suit #2: Well I just did some more math, seems like if we did that then we’d just end up driving more viewers to Youtube if anything, no? Joke’s on us from the sound of it, plus we look like dicks in the end.
Douchebag: You’re not seeing the big picture! Listen. Without the content for their would-have-been customers Google will really be hurting with the demand for this product slipping too fast for the concept of such a thing gains momentum. Adding to that, they’ll be embarrassed, another huge flop beginning to flop. That gives us leverage. We can use that leverage in this joint boycott, like price fixing but with Google as our customer, to “negotiate” with Google for a “reasonable solution” for their “syndication of our content.” Did you see their last quarterly? Given how much they touted this I’m seeing eight or nine digits per network if we do this with the right finesse.
Suit #1: Oh, you mean extortion! Next time just say “shakedown” and get out of here so we can start making calls, you douchebag.
Suit #2: Nice work, douchebag. You keep this up and we’ll promote you to dirtbag, perhaps some day scumbag like us.
Can anyone explain to me how that is not precisely what went down, what’s behind this if it’s truly not a money grab? Do any of you actually think these networks at any point have considered Google TV to be a thorn in their side? Are they just freaked out about the future and the unknown? C’mon.
Google, it’s time to break out the big guns. Make nice with the government and call in a favor from the feds, unleash Google TV to the Europeans who wouldn’t put up with this bullshit but embrace it and roll out an update that changes user agents and version numbers reported by both the browser’s request and the Flash streaming interaction (I believe it has something to do with Flash, how the networks’ servers detect Google TV hits) in order to make the site visits identical on the server end to that of a regular computer visit, maybe throwing in some randomization, whatever – I’m sure you’ve thought that through and know exactly how to pull that off within minutes but haven’t because you wanted to handle this like gentlemen.
But now it’s time to get into some gangster shit with these sons of bitches. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind their domains being wiped off of Search just like that, bitches. I’m sick of reading about these … man I’m having a tough time coming up with more and more obscenities that aren’t excessively obscene … I’m sick of reading about all these you-know-whats just kicking Google TV while it’s down while waving in other gangs to join on the shakedown beat down. Viacom? Who’s left? Man. Google, take the damn gloves off right now.
I don’t know about arrogant, but naive at best, more like reckless, to use most of their other snafus as a model for how they operate. Develop and unveil first, sort out the aftermath the following day for the next two to eighty weeks or so.
Great screenplay. Yet that’s how difficult dealing with content providers is. That’s why it takes years to set up something like iTunes store, and that’s why Microsoft can’t bring Zune to many more markets. That’s why it’s hard for anyone to beat Netflix. You have to have dozens and dozens of deals before you launch something. It was infinitely arrogant of Google to think they can just come and do it without all the homework. Especially with its suspicious motives.
How about this:
Google is the dopeman giving hits for free to get MFs addicted. Google now got the deep pockets but getting reckless. Viacom and his ____ catch Google slippin and jack him. Dirty being done dirty.
If Google had one to two hundred million Google TV visitors on these sites wouldn’t the networks have much more leverage to get Google to do whatever they want should they, say, come up with a way to make this even more profitable for them?
How does this expose the networks’ interests to some sort of threat?
The only threat I can see is from what they’re doing now and the potential large-scale legal ramifications that come from it which may be unknown now as this situation is a first, and also a threat of no longer being on Google’s Christmas card mailing list, if you think Google has anything to offer these networks that they don’t have to.
Google is the big guy on the block and sometimes nobody wants to play with the big guy. Viacom and the others are simply protecting their interests, and the interests of their shareholders. Much easier to do now rather rhan after Google has 100-200MM daily viewers. In the end, none of this may work anyway, but they have to try.
This exposes networks to a number of threats. First of all, you don’t want to give your ad broker too much power, ever, if you are a content provider. Second, we are talking about showing content on the big screen for the price of a small screen. Third, Google wants to become a substitute for your cable operator, your networks’ source of revenue. Fourth, this is a very managed market. You want to show something that belongs to them, you come to negotiate and pay first. Google wants to break all that. They can’t allow this to happen.
When (if) Google has 100-200MM users and Viacom turns off the switch, because maybe Google wants to start dropping in their own ads, who are those users going to be pissed off at. Not Google, that’s for sure. So at that point Viacom has no leverage.
Today, there is not a single company in the World willing to take on WalMart. That is not a good thing. Viacom is doing what it has to do to, and now is the right time to do it.
Public opinion. Right. Google is far from knowing how to master it, but they are getting there. My jaw dropped when I heard they were going to open a music store by the end of the year. I couldn’t believe they could get deals with labels. Turns out they didn’t, but the rumor was out. Now when their music thing fails, someone else will be to blame. No, if you are a content provider you want to kill Google when it’s an infant. Letting them grow over you is your worst nightmare.