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Google sweet-talks Spice Girls king

'Could change TV forever'

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Google is in top-secret talks with the man who invented the Spice Girls.

According to The Observer, the world's largest search engine has been whispering with new-age impresario Simon Fuller for about a year, negotiating a deal that "could change the way TV is watched over the internet."

Our guess is that it will change things for the worse. Fuller is responsible not only for the Spice Girls but the Pop Idol franchise and half of X-Factor.

Sources close to Fuller say that he said this: "It's a big idea on a global scale. It will change television in much the way iTunes changed the way music is disseminated."

This summer, Google’s head of TV technology Vincent Dureau told a Silicon Valley audience that the company has more insight into the future of television industry than the television industry.

"A lot of the recipes and lessons that work on the web can actually apply to TV," Dureau said. Google has mastered the art of making lots of money from an audience that's ridiculously fragmented, he argued, and that's the way TV audiences are going.

"Audience fragmentation is a good thing for advertising, not a bad thing. You can make your audience more specialized," he said. "With more specialized channels, you can actually insert more relevant content that's more likely to reach the intended audience."

"You can actually make more money, because you can increase the relevancy of your ads," he continued. "You can cut down on the number of ads - and still reach more people. At the end of the day, you're changing the attitude of the consumer. They've reached a point where they expect the ad to be relevant and they're more likely to watch it."

Google already offers a pair of online video services: YouTube and Google Video. And it's toying with targeted ads. But as it stands, the company hasn't figured out the role of professionally-produced video.

After lawsuits from the likes of Verizon, Google is cracking down on copyrighted-content posted by users, and it recently destroyed the Google Video store where it sold clips on behalf of TV outfits like CBS.

Now, it would seem that the company plans on teaming with Simon Fuller to offer its own TV shows. Brace yourself. ®

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