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The year of the Legal Film Download starts CES video frenzy

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CBS is committing primetime hits, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Survivor and The Amazing Race, and library classic TV series including I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch and The Twilight Zone, all presented commercial-free.

Google Video will also feature NBA games from this season and from NBA history, including the Playoffs and the Finals, which will be available to fans 24 hours after the contest's conclusion.

We’re not sure of the value of historic news, footage from past events covered by ITN, but they will be available and they will have a passing interest, we’re sure, but this is neither catch-up TV nor compelling pay-TV. Instead, it looks more like an experiment with content that CBS and others are happy to risk, while they find out if this will really work. It is the selection of really old material that, of course, takes all the exposure out of the experiment for CBS and others, but it also means that the experiment is less likely to work.

It’s not as if when anyone does a search at Google they will be reminded to look in the video section (it’s at http://video.google.com) and the Google video search is distinctly less well executed than those from Blinkx, Truveo and other video-focused start-ups.

But the promise of thousands of titles for sale in the Store with more titles added every day does suggest that a lot of backroom work has gone into this, and it’s not quite so half baked and, if at all successful, the big shows will find their way onto the experiment, we’re sure.

Additionally there are smaller, less well-known content producers and these may well be the key to this service. If I was an independent film producer that had my last five films shown in only 20 or so cinemas, I’d be knocking the door down at Google. These small companies include BlueHighways TV, CareTALK, Fashion TV, Here! TV, HDNet, HilariousDownloads.com, Image Entertainment, iWatch- Now.com, Kantola Productions, MediaZone, Plum TV, Porchlight Entertainment, SOFA Entertainment, Teen Kids, Trinity Broadcasting Network, WGBH, Wheels TV, and Wilderness Film India.

Video prices are set by the content provider with no minimum or maximum dollar-limit. Owners also have the choice to offer their content with or without copy protection - enabling them greater control over its distribution.

Content can now be viewed with a new Google player which can be downloaded for free from any playback page. It offers all the traditional playback options (play, pause, stop, etc), as well as a "thumbnail" navigation feature that enables users to browse through an entire video, or go a frame at a time.

iPod and Sony Playstation Portable users will also be able to download and watch any non-copy-protected content from Google Video, and even get it specially optimized for playback on their devices. Google Video Store will be available throughout the world. However, purchasing premium content in the Google Video Store will only be available in the US. Those international video rights tripping us up again, but perhaps Google will go on to set up local versions once it feels it’s got the formula right.

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