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GooTube mulls fee-TV streams

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Google is in talks with TV execs to stream commercial-free TV shows on YouTube for a buck ninety-nine each on the day after they're originally broadcast.

So says a Tuesday report on The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blog, citing "multiple sources."

The post makes no mention of whether the service would be US-only, but as these types of deals go, that's a safe bet - at least at first.

Notice that we said "stream" and not "download." Unlike Apple TV service, Google's bright idea wouldn't sell you the shows so that you could replay them at you leisure, but instead stream them. Watch 'em once, and they'd be gone - and so would be $1.99. Amazon has adopted a similar model.

As WSJ/ATD notes, if this deal goes through, the TV execs would want to keep the pricing the same for streaming and downloading, seeing as how a different pricing structure for each method would mean that new deals would have to be cut with the shows' creators and talent.

The catch, of course, is you. That is: Would you, the consumer, be willing to pay $1.99 for a show you could watch once, or the same amount for a show you could download and return to over and over again? Maybe you'd prefer the ability to share that oh-so-hilarious sequence when Lois takes over Pewterschmidt Industries on Family Guy.

In the YouTube model, you couldn't. In the Apple model, you can.

According to the WSJ/ATD, both YouTube and TV execs cite unnamed studies which assert that consumers don't care - that most folks only watch a show once, and that's that.

Perhaps - but maybe because that's how TV viewers have been trained to consume broadcast content since Ralph Kramden threatened to send wife Alice "to the moon" a half-century ago.

In today's time-shifted reality, consumers are being retrained to view content whenever - and wherever - they like. If anyone should know that, it'd be YouTube. ®

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