Google TV: The dawn of interactive TV finally breaks

Jim O'Neill FierceIPTV editorThe image of Google TV as the pay-TV killer and darling of cord-cutters everywhere may soon be evolving into Google TV, the savior of pay-TV, or at least a less-threatening co-star. But, we all know that what Google TV (check out a sneak peek here) is really doing is ushering in true interactivity, a merging of the Internet and TV--at last.

Just a few weeks ago, Google couldn't get past the outer office of Hollywood's moguls. Executives from ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS, wouldn't, at the time, even commit to giving Google rich data about their content to make search easier and more productive, and they balked at posting higher-quality video that would be playable on larger screens, worried that to do so would lead to them losing their content among a flood of video clips and pirated video.

At the time, with hype about Google TV starting to ramp up, Hollywood wasn't sure what to make of the tech interloper. One industry exec told me right after Google TV plans were made public, that Google would have a tough time making inroads in the company town, because it had no ties--and no trust established--in Hollywood.

Now, the TV service is set to launch this month on Sony and Logitech devices with content from HBO, NBC, CNN and more. Of course it'll have Netflix, doesn't everyone?

Turner Broadcasting has jumped in with both feet, optimizing some of their websites for viewing on Google TV, including TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, available anytime through Google TV.

While NBC hasn't exactly unlocked the barn doors to its content, it has collaborated with Google to bring CNBC Real-Time, an application that allows users to track stocks and access news feeds while watching financial news from CNBC on the TV screen. Time Warner, as mentioned above, is stretching its TV Everywhere wings, giving authenticated subscribers access to HBO GO on demand.

NBA Game Time is the first or what likely will be many options for viewers to catch up on scores and highlights from various sporting events. The NFL won't take long to bring Sunday and Monday night football to Google TV in some form, it's too easy a target, and appeals to just the right demographic. You know that fans will be all over it.

And, there are a ton of other OTT sites Google is working with in addition to Netflix, like Amazon Video on Demand, Vevo, Napster, Pandora, Twiter, and the rest of the usual suspects.

What's missing?

Shows and movies from Apple's iTunes store, unless you have an Apple TV or computer hooked up as well; Hulu, for the moment, but Hulu Plus really can't ignore Google TV, can it? You also aren't going to find Major League Baseball's stellar in the Google TV lineup, yet, but yet shouldn't be too long.

Google says they're continuing to add content partners, and it'll be interesting to see what they can add by launch; it'll be even more interesting to see who jumps on the bandwagon after launch as consumers begin buying into the experience--that's right, the experience that Google TV will offer.

Because what Google TV will do better than anyone else out there is to make TV a truly interactive experience. It will deliver, in one fell swoop, the promise that IPTV has been slow to realize. From search to social networking, users will have the opportunity--not the requirement, but the opportunity--to be as involved in their own viewing experience as they want to be. At last. -Jim