Can a cable-like streaming TV service save Google TV?


It’s no secret that Google hasn’t had the best of times getting its Google TV platform off the ground. The Android-based set-top box platform has been used in many different products from the likes of Sony, LG, Vizio, Logitech and more, but some have exited the arena (Logitech) while others don’t seem to be having much success with it.

What’s wrong with Google TV?

The platform itself has been quite stagnant since launch. Google has introduced new features over time, but it is still struggling to deliver the sort of content that would get users excited. Personally, I would have loved to be able to replace my cable TV service with the Google TV we thought we were getting ahead of its launch (the one where we thought Google had tons of content providers lined up).


Instead, the platform launched as a glorified launchpad for TV apps. Google was mostly shunned by big studios, and things started drying up ever since. Google has been quiet on the issue for a long time, and a side from a quick update here and a device launch there, one might not ever know the platform exists if they weren’t actively following the smart TV scene.

Can Google TV be saved?

I was interested to hear that Google might finally be gearing up to bring us the service that we’ve all been waiting for. Sources close to the matter revealed to Wall Street Journal that the Mountain View, CA company has been in talks with media companies about licensing content for use with an internet TV service, one that would mirror the channel-surfing model traditional television provides, except it’d all be coming through the online pipeline.

It isn’t hard to imagine Google has an easier time getting the ear of major content providers now that they’ve gotten their feet wet in several areas of the TV space. Google TV was a (rocky) start, and Google Fiber has made them a legit provider of cable television services (albeit for a very limited amount of people right now).


With an internet-based TV subscription service, Google could finally give the platform the legs it needs to make it an easier sell to consumers. Apps and integration with existing set-top boxes isn’t enough for many to hop on board — some are looking for a full-fledged replacement.

What a new “Google TV” could be like

If true, I wholly expect Google to inject the service into its Google TV platform. It might not even require a big overhaul — they could simply provide an app in the Google Play Store and retroactively deliver access to dozens (or even hundreds) of channels. I could see them offering it in a few different ways:

  • A la carte, where you pay a low rate and get only the channels you need and want. I could easily see them allowing us to pay $3 per month for each standard channel (like Cartoon Network or USA Network) and $6 for a premium channel (Like HBO or Showtime), mixing and matching so people can get cheaper access to television without paying for all the fluff they don’t watch.
  • Another way would be to offer it all for a low flat rate. Perhaps Google could borrow the traditional cable TV model of giving you a basic set of channels for, say, $20 per month, and allowing you to add more as you want or need them.

With “Google pricing” (let’s face it: we expect everything of theirs to be free or ultra affordable by now) I could see the company offering a compelling service to those who don’t care to pay upwards of $70 to $80 per month for cable TV service.

Who it’d be perfect for

It would certainly be ideal for folks who are stuck in areas where one company has a major monopoly over any other, with no competition to help drive costs down. I’d ditch cable in a heartbeat, and stick to a nice cocktail of Google TV, Netflix, Hulu and more to help fill in gaps that a full-fledged cable TV service would leave behind.


It wouldn’t be perfect, but the amount of money I could save each month would totally be worth giving up the ease and worry-free access to entertainment cable TV currently provides.

It’s funny, when I was going through a bill audit a while ago I thought to myself — what don’t I use that I’m actively paying for? Cable TV was at the top of my list. In fact, I’d probably never use my cable TV service if it weren’t for Monday and Thursday Night Football.

I keep cable TV service around for other folks in the house who aren’t as disconnected from cable as I currently am, but in a situation where my decisions would only affect myself, I’d have ditched cable long ago — with, or without Google TV. I say bring it on, Google, and try not to drop the ball this time around. I hope Google can get it done, and I’ll be tossing my wallet at their face the moment it (hopefully) arrives.

Would a Google TV service like this entice you to drop your premium cable package or would you rather stick with the robust offerings from current cable providers? Is price your biggest factor in such a decision or is it the ease of use and availability of content and channels? Let us know what would make you want to buy into Google TV by dropping a comment below.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Live sporting events is one of the primary reasons I’ve got Cable TV. Beyond that, there are really only a handful of shows that I watch regularly.

    If Google TV let you purchase subscriptions to certain shows/channels/series/events rather than a flat fee to pay for a ridiculous bundle that I don’t even use 10% of… I think a lot of people would LOVE that. They’d save money by shaving off a ton of excess that’s being paid for but not consumed.

    1. The people would love this, but the people responsible for the content (big networks) will hate this. It’s a bunch of money hungry old technology hating retards running the show.

    2. I would absolutely love this. There are really only a handful of shows I regularly watch so being able to subscribe to just those shows would be awesome.

    3. I don’t have cable and my roommates were talking about getting cable specifically to watch sports.

  2. I’ve been waiting for an IP-based “cable” TV service for years.

    1. fios and uverse are both ip based cable tv, although run on a traditional cable model.

      1. Unless I’m wrong, they are only offered in Verizon and AT&T telephone service areas, respectively. (I live in an area serviced by regional cable and telephone, which leaves me with poor/expensive choices.) I want to see a service offered to anyone that has access to the Internet (like Hulu or Netflix, but broadcast channels instead).

        1. this usually becomes an issue of bandwidth. fios and uverse give you an amazingly large amount of bandwidth (and the tv doesn’t come out of the available level of the internet speed you pay for, unless you are paying for the max internet speed, and watching 4+ shows at one at the same time) for example uverse offers speeds ranging from 3.0-35mbps the actual fiber pipe to your neighborhood/house is probably 50mbps so you can pay for 3.0 internet and still watch 4 5mbps hd streams without effecting your internet speeds, google fiber with its 1000fiber to the home of course solves all of these problems lol (which is also why if you have the free lower speed google fiber you still get tv. so even if the service exists you cant use it for all your tvs unless you have the bandwidth leading to your house or at least your neighborhood

        2. It’s even more limited than that. I have Verizon home phone service, but no FIOS offered in my area. TWC seems to have a monopoly over the area. I can get Dish, but I’ve heard not so great things about them and TWC still has the fastest non-FIOS internet connection.

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            It should organize everything you watch and make it easy to get…I
            don’t think it should inherently change what you consume or where from.
            However, people would naturally make different choices once they have
            more options.
            While I’m dreaming…I also want an easy and DRM free DVR feature.

  3. As long as I can get my hockey, I’m in. Screw Comcast and their shenanigans.

  4. Google TV, as in the name and the brand, NEEDS to die. It needs to just simply become Android. That’s really more or less what it was anyways and the Android brand is a lot stronger. Plus Android could bring with it the game support that Google TV has so desperately needed since it’s inception. Plus, I’d much rather see IPTV come to Android as a whole (TV on Nexus 10 anyone?), and not just Google TV.

    1. I kinda agree. Chrome OS, Google TV os, no need. Just extend the worlds most versatile OS, Android, across all platforms…

    2. I agree that this service shouldn’t be 100 percent ONLY tied to Google TV. Also, I highly doubt Google wouldn’t want to leverage the popularity of Android in its other various platforms and flavors, considering the slower adoption for GTV. But I disagree about killing Google TV since I like/use it but see a lot more potential for the service down the road. Its just still in its infancy. Give it time.

    3. Android TV

  5. Google needs to position themselves in the TV’s themselves. Have TV manufacturers replace their crappy UI with GoogleTV. Same idea behind Android just for TVs.

    Think about it, no one wants a extra box if they don’t need one. If my new Samsung HDTV had GoogleTV i would be stoked! I am very surprised this has not happened yet

    1. I wish my samsung HDTV had google TV rather than smarthub. I might be looking at LG the next time I buy a TV, specifically for GTV.

    2. That would be absolutely awesome!

  6. Maybe I’m the minority, but I want Google TV and Cable. It’s pretty much a smart TV, but it’s a standard OS so that features can be shared across TVs/AV receivers from multiple brands. The little guy app maker can get a big audience immediately, and the small TV makers can add it to their TVs and immediately have a huge number of smart apps without needing to have developers create special versions. It should organize everything you watch and make it easy to get…I don’t think it should inherently change what you consume or where from. However, people would naturally make different choices once they have more options.
    While I’m dreaming…I also want an easy and DRM free DVR feature.

  7. I think this is in response to the XBOX One. I think big network companies are realizing they better shape up and provide service on a broader range of devices otherwise people will stop watching their programming.

  8. I’d “drop it like it’s hot”

  9. I don’t watch TV since I don’t really have the time. I watch Netflix. I’d like to see something like All Access to every Movie in the PlayStore. I’d pay like $40 a month for that. That sounds good since their selections seem to be good. I haven’t actually gone through them though. It’s just what I saw being offered.

    1. I agree with this here. That would be an epic deal.

  10. Right now Aereo offers service in my area, so that covers my live sporting events, the problem is, I don’t have a good interface for it and it doesn’t work on Google TV.

  11. Or give a slight similar bundle price (but still cheaper) and give u the ability to customize your programming and give you discounts for the more you add to your list of subscriptions or lower ur bill every so often amount of years you’ve been with them (with a cap of coarse not trying to get greedy).

  12. I haven’t had cable for about 2 years and I don’t really miss it, I “acquire” all my content from the internet so I’m not really missing much. Although it does suck to watch some shows after they’ve came out. If they offered an a la carte option I’d be all over it like white on rice! Out of the standard 100+ channel package from Comcast I would only watch maybe 5-15 channels, the rest is all BS I couldn’t care less about. Right now I only get what I want, when I want.

  13. GoogleTV is just awful. It’s just a dumbed down version of Android. They really need an overhaul because it has so much potential. Native applications for XBMC/Netflix/Hulu/Crackle/HBO Go/Showtime On Demand/Comedy Central/NBC/CBS. I just want the Android experience optimized for the big screen.

    1. Although google tv does not have the greatest ui out of the many different variations out their almost every app you mentioned their is supported by Google tv, not to mention the rest them can be side loaded and with a few tweaks can run flawlessly especially since they ask have controller support. Theirs other apps like qloud media that allow you to view all your media content from your pc via wifi plus i have the vizio co-star which also allows me to sync my onlive controller and steam games which i may add run pretty awesome on it… So no it is not awful by any means if you consider the particular device you might have and you know what you’re doing. It could improve more and regularly and i will agree with you that it does need a overhaul to make it much sleeker looking, have more customizations and support more android native applications like gmail, some games, and even the occasional order out food apps… But I’m pretty satisfied with its current format it does what i need it to do but for the sake of the platform not getting scrapped it definitively needs to be more user friendly to everyone even the trolls lol ahem ahem

  14. I’m surprised Google hasn’t explored partnering up with a cable company. Ultimately, I think the only way Google TV could be “somewhat” renewed, is if it’s integrated into Google Fiber. Initially, when Google purchased Motorola, I was hoping that they would manage to integrate Google TV into the Digital Cable Boxes and DVR’s that are sold to the different cable manufacturers, as the delivery device. Then, they sold away that portion of Motorola, so that “dream” went away. The general consumers will not buy into Google TV, unless they truly understand what they’re getting out of it. Heck, I’ve been an Android fanatic, but never bought into the concept of Google TV. And I don’t blame the studios and networks for not buying into it either. There’s just too much money spent producing and creating the content, that the benefit would be minimal to the studios as compared to how it would’ve benefited Google.

  15. I have this dream too but my 3.0 max speed (when im lucky) that my ISP provides doesn’t share the same dreams, even if it did come to pass.

  16. remember true HD requires at least a 10Mb/s connection(even more if 4K content becomes available). So if you have more than one TV, most people will need an internet upgrade to reliably watch TV. And a DVR will need at least need a 20Mb/s connection if you plan on recording a show and watching another. Most of the country (USA) does not have access to those types of speeds.

    An IP based TV service would really only fit the needs/budget of a select group of people (because of the cost/availability of needed bandwidth). So, since internet providers usually also provide cable service…if they start losing money to IP based TV from Google, they will respectively raise the price of their internet or start capping data use.

    1. yea, although tv is only filmed/broadcast in 720p/1080i not 1080p. Netflix has super-hd/1080p but it relies on your specific internet provider having a netflix server near you(and being a large provider). This is an interesting development of the “internet” because it relies on not having to leave a single providers section of the internet pipeline. All of them (netflix,hulu, regular cable tv like uverse) use some sort of compression currently as well. Except for maybe youtube, which explains why its 1080p+ is always buffering and dropping frames.

  17. Great article. Here’s hoping the content starts coming in!

  18. Google TV has Netflix, Amazon Prime, the Play Store, and Vudu for paid contents.

    It can also do Plex and PlayOn.

    More importantly, it can search for tons and tons of free contents, especially B-rated movies.

    You say you want local channels? Hook a $50 antenna to the coax connector.

    That is way more contents than I need.

  19. I’m all for an a-la-carte package. I ditched cable years ago and haven’t looked back. I don’t mind paying a fair price for content, but not when I have to pay for Lifetime, HGTV, and Telemundo as well.

  20. I really hope they go a-la-carte. I still can’t justify the jump in price to get the Science channel. So I just don’t have cable. If they let me pick the 6 channels I actually watch, I will be a Google TV subscriber for sure.

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