Forget your local cable company: Google wants to be your TV provider
The current landscape of TV programming distribution is changing. Over the last few years we've seen the launch of Hulu and HBO Go, both Amazon and Netflix introduced their own original programming, and even Google got into the TV market with their Fiber service. And now it seems like every few weeks, another major tech company is working on IPTV (cable TV delivered over broadband connections) offerings, with the latest being Google. Even though the cost is still unknown, this is still good for consumers, as competition often leads to better deals and lower monthly bills.
In addition to Sony, Intel, and Apple trying to work out TV content deals, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is now looking to get in on IPTV distribution as well. The WSJ notes that these providers would likely deliver these TV offerings through their respective devices like the PlayStation 4, Apple TV, or even a Google TV-capable device; though, since these companies are still in the early stages we may instead (or also) see TV-specific hardware from them. What this could mean is that you can get a TV subscription through Apple or Google, and just keep Internet service through your current provider.
Where Google may have an advantage in securing deals is that they already have TV content deals for their Google Fiber service. Google has managed to secure deals that allow them to deliver channels like ESPN, MTV, Fox Sports, Food Network, TLC, and more to their Google Fiber customers for roughly $50 a month -- Google's Internet-only plan is $70 per month; adding TV brings the price up to $120. One thing to note is that Google currently offers the roughly 150 channels under one plan; there is no tiered pricing.
One thing the WSJ did point out with regards to TV bundling was that to "get decent rates for so-called over-the-top TV services, Google and other companies will almost certainly have to accept the standard programming bundles that cable and satellite operators pay for-packages that include highly popular and less popular channels." So it's likely that we may not see offerings similar to the Google setup we described above, where you just have one plan.
Even though what these companies are trying to do is still in the smaller stages of development, consumers should get a little excited. Competition between providers is always a good thing, as it can often lead to better deals or pricing. We're already beginning to see this happen in the wireless space as we told you yesterday with carriers offering earlier upgrade options. Even some cable providers have begun to respond to Google's Fiber service, by offering better Internet and lower prices for customers near the areas where Google Fiber is available. And if they deliver content using their own hardware, perhaps even bills will even be lower, since customers wont be forced to rent a DVR or cable set-top box at $12–20 per month. Either way, the way in which we consume media is changing and it's going to be exciting to see what these companies can offer.