Viacom Blocks Free Content On Internet


Viacom said Monday it has blocked full-length episodes of shows it runs on the Internet to users of Google TV, becoming the fifth television programmer refusing to serve up content on the search engine's new Internet television platform. The company says it's evaluating alternative business models. So, until Viacom execs stop acting like children perhaps advertisers need to take ad dollars elsewhere other than MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and other related products.  

After all, as Internet television picks up in popularity, why invest ad budget dollars in networks that won't allow for growth and innovation. Internet users can still access Viacom shows on the company's Web sites through desktop computers. So, why block access through Google TV. If you're going to block access to content on TV, also block it on the Web.



Google TV adds a Web browser to the television. In my case, Best Buy's Geek Squad came Friday afternoon to install the 46-inch Sony equipped with the service, but consumers can buy a Logitech add-on that turns any high definition television into a computer with browser. The Sony television supporting Google TV turns on like a computer, taking about 45 seconds to boot up, unlike a conventional television.

By blocking access to Viacom content, the programmer and others that have done the same, essentially block consumers from accessing free content on the Internet. Viacom joins ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, that have blocked Internet versions of their shows through Google TV. These network providers might as well put the content behind a pay wall for all Internet users.

Hogwash (I saw the new Harry Potter movie on Sunday), I say to these network operators that are going about this all wrong and will eventually see new business models and opportunities. No, I'm not taking back my Sony 46-inch television with the Google TV service, as some suggest. The high-definition picture quality is fantastic, the services available meet my needs and advertisers have a real opportunity to gain additional viewers through consumers searching on the Web.

And retailers, may I remind you there's nearly a direct connection between what's viewed on television and the ability to purchase goods and services through Web sites.

Total U.S. explicit core search volume rose 16.7% in October, compared with the prior year, according to comScore. Google domestic explicit core search market share reach 66.3% in October, up from 66.1% sequentially. The research firm recently released October 2010 core and explicit search volume and market share data compiling search activity.

Viacom and other others that blocked access to content through Google TV were remiss in thinking the service would provide value to consumers and obviously ignored the possibilities for innovation and additional revenue streams. Content providers that already spent time working through the process and now provide widgets on the television service see the value. There are plenty of opportunities for application developers to build widgets that support the service.

Take CNBC, for example. The network designed a platform that allows consumers to watch stock tickers and build custom alerts. Netflix and Crackle provide access to movies. Rather than suggest Google should have inked theses partnerships in advance before launching the platform, perhaps the real hold up here is that network operators and content providers like Viacom and others need to get with the programming.

3 comments about "Viacom Blocks Free Content On Internet ".
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  1. Digital Marketer from .., November 22, 2010 at 6:17 p.m.


    you're generally very insightful, but you've missed the point here.

    viacom (and other programmers) surely believe so strongly in the future of internet TV, and the premise that "content is king," that they don't want a seat at google's table on google's terms, they want to decide who gets a seat at their table on their terms.

    your article doesn't even reference the $billions entrenched in the "traditional" TV business model. cable companies charge $50-$200+/mo, and programmers get $.05 to $5 per sub per month, plus $billions more in network advertising, against which they make long-term rights commitments to properties like the NFL and the Olympics to promote the rest of their on-air skeds.

    currently, cable companies own the viewer relationship, and programmers own the advertiser relationship.

    the internet threatens to make that whole model evaporate - and you're surprised there's resistance?

    they haven't ignored the potential to make pennies on the side with crawls and tickers, rather they know how high the stakes really are, and they're determined to realize the potential to make real dollars. and the roadside is littered with technology developers who tried to circumvent the programmers and carriers unsuccessfully.

    the networks know time is on their side, and that ultimately viewers will go where their favorite shows are.

    they're not "acting like children," they're acting like businesspeople fighting over the long-term control of a multi-billion dollar industry.

    -evan saks

  2. David Pavlicko from AVISPL, November 23, 2010 at 9:34 a.m.

    Evan nailed it. I 100% agree with his assessment, though it's pretty obvious that the 'old days' of media are approaching their end.

    For now, Laurie, you should try switching your user-agent-- here's a workaround:

  3. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, November 23, 2010 at 9:50 a.m.

    Paula, Evan and David - thanks for taking the time to comment and the insightful tips -- all of which are valid points. David, thanks for the workaround. Evan, thanks for throwing in the numbers. I'll admit, I totally agree with you that "the Internet threatens to make that whole model evaporate." So, why didn't Viacom and others pay more attention and come to an agreement before Google and others released the devices. And, why doesn't Viacom and others block the content on the Internet from a regular computer the same way they did from Google TV? The Sony TV with Google TV services is basically a big computer.

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