Meanwhile, Google wants network programs to be connected more fully to the online world, saying that's what consumers want. TV networks say, not so fast.
Networks already have dealt with the growing advertising-financial complications pf DVRs and time-shifting. Now Google TV wants to further upset things by giving people access to TV shows through different kinds of services, thus leveling the playing field for traditional TV networks and online video destinations.
Ironically, one of those services is Hulu.com, with which three of the four leading U.S. broadcast networks are partnered. Google is negotiating to bring Hulu aboard Google TV.
With a focus on Google's search platform -- still the company's strongest revenue driver -- Google TV could be bad for TV networks by taking viewers away from their traditional myopic view of where to find major prime-time entertainment.
Thirty years ago, savvy broadcast network executives might have been worried about the same thing concerning cable television. And that's actually what happened; broadcast networks' share of the traditional TV prime-time audience is now well below 50%.
Still, for the most part broadcasters' advertising revenues increased during the period of cable's growth. More recently, it has been a different, down-trending advertising story for some. TV networks don't want the same thing happening again, out of their control.
Then there are marketing matters to consider. Searching for "the shows you want" sounds good. But how will Google direct viewers on their new Internet-connected TVs? Will Google offer up "its" own suggestions -- maybe to new online video sites, to Google's own YouTube, to other non-video content?
Time-shifting has already begun moving people away from traditional live TV airings. Networks are worried, more than ever, that the volume of TV advertising could be rapidly changing.
Network executives talk about getting value for their programming -- and have made some quick financial decisions, mostly due to what they feel undervalues their programming: CBS says "no" to Hulu; NBC Universal says "no" to Apple TV; and all networks are now saying "no" to Google TV.
Seems like there's too much technology and disruption -- and not a clear vision of the new TV programming-advertising model. Powerful Google still needs big TV/video content to make things work -- which is the only card TV networks have left to play.