The L.A. Times has an article today about Google’s next big project, Google TV, a venture that will let viewers, with the help of a set-top box, connect their televisions to the Internet, search the web for movies and shows, and then watch the results on their TVs, not their computers. And if your TV can surf the web and find the show you want to watch on Hulu (among other, possibly less legal places), you don’t necessarily need to pay for cable — you don’t, really, even need to watch your favorite ABC show through ABC’s website. In other words, Google TV represents a threat to the status quo, and as such, you will be shocked — shocked! — to hear that it is “causing jitters in Hollywood.”
As the L.A. Times explains, Hollywood is worried that Google TV will increase piracy and won’t pay properly, and that “by bringing the Web directly to the living room TV, entertainment industry executives fear Google TV will encourage consumers to ditch their $70 monthly cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of watching video free via the Internet.” Except watching video free via the Internet is something that lots of people already do! And something that lots more people are going to do — with or without Google TV “encouraging” them. Entertainment companies and cable providers can either be a part of trying to figure out how to provide and profit off this viewership, or they can cross their fingers and hope that, magically, the number of people who watch TV exclusively on their TVs starts to grow. After all, refusing to figure out how to capitalize on new technologies and user habits worked out really well for the music industry.