Will Google TV's launch in Europe succeed after U.S. foibles?


Google TV is launching in France in the fall, according to reports out of the French financial daily, Les Echos. That news probably isn't causing too many pay-TV execs to quake in their boots, at least not after the--to be kind--disastrous reception Google TV got in the U.S. when it partnered with Logitech and Sony to roll it out in October of 2010.

But, perhaps pay-TV service providers should pay close attention to the latest launch.

After all, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) isn't the kind of company that repeats mistakes, and to assume that this launch will resemble its 2010 struggle would be foolish.

Google has laid some groundwork in France that could grease the skids a bit for a new Google TV, launching a video-on-demand service through the Google Play Store last week. So far, only a few hundred titles are available, but they include a bevy of recognizable films, including some recent releases: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Drive, Friends with Benefits and Insidious, as well as a variety of French titles.

New releases and HD titles are $4-$5. Users can download titles to Android tablets and phones and can watch them on the Google Play site or YouTube on computers.

Les Echos said the latest iteration of Google TV will include a pair of Android-based devices from Sony, a basic device that'll cost around $266, and one with a Blu-ray player (just can't seem to shake that physical media) that comes in at $399; both include a remote with a dedicated button to send users to the Google Play Store, and it potentially could allow users to control the device using their voice.

At launch, users will have access to as many as 200 applications, Sony said. Les Echos said at least one other western European country could see a GTV launch this fall, possible Spain, Germany or the United Kingdom.

GTV's launch in the U.S. failed for a couple of reasons, one being a price that many saw as too high for an offering that, at the time, was too slim. The other reason, of course, was content. In an environment where content is king-with both consumers and service providers-GTV just didn't have enough to offer.

But Google's lack of a relationship with Hollywood, or, more accurately, Hollywood's lack of understanding of the platform and the technology, has been changing. YouTube's channel explosion, part of a $100 million initiative Google is funding, has bought Google at least a small seat at the table.

YouTube's channel array includes a series of shows from Deepak Chopra, as well as horror shorts from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, an array of talk shows, sports-focused programming and cooking shows.  In short, everything you'd find on traditional broadcast TV... even some of the stars.

"With more and more people being connected, the economics are improving, so it makes sense that storytellers of all kinds would want to come to us," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's global head of content and a former architect of Netflix's streaming video service, told USA Today. "The more connected devices we get, the more this system will open up."

That content from "New Hollywood," of course, will be a mainstay on any GTV platform, but it won't be the only content available. You can bet Google is working hard on making sure more traditional shows are available as well.

On Tuesday, April 17, at NAB, I'll be hosting a breakfast panel that includes Irv Kalick, who's been the principal of Google's business development group for the past five years, focusing on all things TV related, including Google TV, YouTube and TV Everywhere. He's also responsible for dealing with many of the major media companies and distribution companies. Also on the panel will be: AT&T's (NYSE: T) VP of U-verse marketing GW Shaw; Fox Broadcasting's VP of Innovation Hardie Tankersley; the UFC's VP Digital, Technology Research & Development, Christy King; KIT Digital's COO Alex Blum; and Turner Broadcasting's VP of advanced video, Don Loheide.

We'll leave plenty of time for audience questions, so you can pepper the panel... and even ask Irv what's on tap for GTV here.

You can find more information on the panel here. Hope to see you there.--Jim