"The biggest change is really the elimination of barriers to viewing," Google President Daniel Alegre told NAB Show attendees while announcing Google Search will carry live TV listings. "It’s never been easier to watch what we want, when we want, wherever we want. A new and better version of TV is rising from the ashes.” If you’re a local broadcaster, he said “traditionally you’ve been constrained by the number of [people who can access your programming] over the air. That constraint no longer exists.”
Google’s Alegre Touts Totally Changed TV
Live TV listings are coming to Google Search, Google President Daniel Alegre announced Wednesday during a keynote speech he delivered at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
“Coming soon, Google Search will have live TV listings,” Alegre said. “So now, when you’re looking for [an episode of] The Big Bang Theory, we’ll show you not just the app where you can find the latest episode, but also which channel you can tune your TV to later in the evening to watch it,” Allegre said.
The announcement came in the context of a speech in which he insisted that TV is not dead, but, in his view, experiencing a rebirth — more channels, more shows, more devices on which to watch it all anytime and anywhere. Google’s live TV listings will be aimed at helping viewers navigate this new world in which they are overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of choices, he said.
“TV hasn’t really died,” Alegre said. “It’s just completely changed.” He then noted the many ways TV — and TV viewing — has changed. Years ago, “if you missed a show, it was gone forever,” he said, although TV networks in those days enjoyed ratings and shares representing a third of the entire country.
“Today, ratings in the 30s are about as common as the rotary dial TVs on which they aired,” Alegre said. “Viewing really is dictated now by our social calendars.”
He said the word “broadcast” is outdated. “The term ‘broadcast’ doesn’t really even apply anymore because most viewing has gone from a group activity to a solo performance,” he said.
“The biggest change is really the elimination of barriers to viewing,” Alegre said. “It’s never been easier to watch what we want, when we want, wherever we want. And so, amidst all the doom and gloom about TV dying, a new and better version of TV is rising from the ashes…. The content is better than ever and there’s so much more of it. In fact, there were twice as many scripted dramas in 2015 as there were in 2009. Viewership of video is greater than ever too.
“Sure, by the old definition it’s down,” Alegre said of traditional television. “But the new TV, the one that blurs the lines between online and off, is alive and well. TV is truly being reborn.”
He noted that, as viewing of linear TV is declining, online viewing is on the upswing. “The biggest driver of that growth is mobile,” Alegre said.
He conceded, though, that the quality of the online viewing experience — with its disruptions in connectivity (such as buffering) — is not keeping pace with the viewability of linear television. It’s one reason why Google is investing heavily in building fiber-optic networks — to improve and correct viewability issues, he said.
He reported that Google Fiber networks are up and running in four cities, networks are being built in seven more, and an additional 11 markets are under consideration. Google is also studying the feasibility of building fiber-optic systems in large markets such as Los Angeles and Chicago, Alegre said.
“The barriers to distribution are truly breaking down,” Alegre said. “If you’re a local broadcaster, traditionally you’ve been constrained by the number of [people who can access your programming] over the air. That constraint no longer exists. The democracy of distribution means that there’s really no limit to the amount of high-quality content you can deliver to your audience.”
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