Google… Game On?

NFL Sunday Ticket Google

Unlike most red blooded males in this fair country, the start of the football season does nothing for my blood pressure or happiness quotient. I will admit that when I lived in New England a few years back, and when the Patriots were pretty much unstoppable, I did join the party… but it was much more for the chips and dip than the sport. However, in a year or so I may be forced to pay a tiny amount more attention than usual to football. If you are a hard core NFL fan you may well have bought the DirectTV package in good part to gain access to the NFL Sunday Ticket package. That deal expires at the end of the 2014 season so it’s understandably already in-play and one of the earlier suitors is none other than our good friends at Google.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that may have legs. Google has been scratching (mostly with moderate/no success) at TVs for many years. They purchased YouTube back in 2006, and have built it into the second largest search engine, they have also built the monetization pace, especially in recent years. Other forays into more traditional TV have been markedly less successful with the debacle of Google TV in 2011 being the crowning ‘achievement’. Since then we have seen a plethora of TV devices from Apple TV to RoKu or Boxy boxes which have gained traction in good part because they give easy access to huge amounts of high quality lower priced streamed content. The recent over night success of Google’s Chrome Cast, which sold out in one day may have Google looking at this space more carefully.

The Chrome Cast widget is the size of a USB thumb drive and plugs right into the HDMI socket of your TV. The price point of $35 seems to have cleared the ‘low enough not to be an issue’ hurdle nicely. It plays the content Apps like Netflix and Hulu+ in HD beautifully, so adding an NFL Google App which only runs on the Chromecast widget might be an effective way to drive both Chrome Cast sales and the presence of a Google content App to act as a De-facto Google TV station. With the right Apps, you can live without live TV and you really don’t need a cable TV bill.

If you look at the recent media landscape, you see media giants burdened with traditional production and distribution costs, advertising commitments, and increasingly fractured audiences (TV and radio alike) competing with non traditional upstart content delivery platforms like AppleTV and Chromecast which can deliver HDTV over broadband distributing high quality low cost content to both wide spread and highly targeted audiences. Much of the best TV programming is coming from high cable number independents like AMC, even as the PodCast is pulverizing the smoking remains of ‘terrestrial’ radio. There are a lot of viewers out there who would never fully cut the cable TV cord because there are a few things which they really want to see which are exclusive to cable. If Google could secure an NFL deal, maybe that’s another well deserved nail in the coffin which contains the bloated remains of traditional media.

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