Google signs Deepak Chopra and Madonna in TV blitzkrieg
We're not attacking the telly biz! Oh wait, no, we are
Two months ago Google chairman Eric Schmidt assured TV industry executives that Google was complementary to them, not a competitor. All the Chocolate Factory wanted to do, he said, was help.
But as Schmidt was delivering his honeyed words, Google was busy putting the final touches to its TV blitz. The company will unleash 100 channels via its YouTube network, spending substantial amounts on original programming. And YouTube, we must remember, has one of the world's largest private IP networks, bypassing the public net with its own content delivery network.
Amongst the names signed up to produce premium content, the WSJ reports, are self-help guru Deepak Chopra, Madonna and skateboarding champ Tony Hawk. It looks like a very tacky cable TV network - but that's not the point.
For a decade, Google has been happy to scrape professional content, or allow anonymous users to upload other people's content, while claiming immunity. It's now investing in its own material - and Google can no longer pretend not to be a large vertically-integrated media company - one that controls its own pipes and sets its own advertising rates.
There's a substantial advantage to owning your own content delivery network. Once upon a time, it supported the notion that networks should be open: advocating for regulation to ensure this. Once Google completed the build-out of its own private network, its interest in 'net neutrality' cooled. It's good for business to keep smaller startups out of the picture.
Here's a reminder of what Schmidt told the Edinburgh TV Festival - just two months ago:
We provide platforms for people to engage with content and, through automated software, we show ads next to content that owners have chosen to put up. But we have neither the ambition nor the know-how to actually produce content on a large scale. Trust me, if you gave people at Google free rein to produce TV you'd end up with a lot of bad sci-fi!
They're not laughing now. ®