Still struggling to get anything but the cold shoulder from Hollywood for its Google TV platform, the search giant's purchase of DRM and video optimization firm Widevine could help it at least get into the outer office of studio execs without having security called.
Widevine is an honest-to-goodness name in online content security, and counts among its customers AT&T, Blockbuster, Netflix, NBC.com, Sonic Solutions, Samsung, Telstra, Best Buy, DISH Network, LOVEFiLM and Vudu among others. Google has promised to keep all of those existing agreements in place, which should help it gain a little credibility.
Still no announcement--and there likely won't be--on the financial details of the acquisition.
Widevine CEO Brian Baker, in a prepared statement, set the tone of the deal:
"For many years, Widevine has enabled consumers to access digital entertainment content. ...With the recent growth of Internet video and network connected devices, it is increasingly important for technology to provide consumers with the capability to watch what they want, when they want, where they want. Widevine will continue to supply the industry with leading video optimization and content protection solutions."
For its part, Google acknowledged the need for a more secure delivery vehicle on the Internet.
"Streaming is rapidly becoming the standard way for you to find the content you want to watch now. We've seen this on YouTube--where we get over 2 billion views every day--but it's much bigger than that, as proven by the increasing popularity of movie subscription services and tablets," said Mario Queiroz, VP of product management. "Content creators and distributors are making huge strides in bringing us content in this way, but to do so, many require high-quality video and audio, secure delivery, and other content protection and video optimization technologies. With these tools in place they can easily and effectively give you access to the rich library of content you want to watch, with the immediacy you've come to expect."
Google has struggled to acquire content for its smart-TV platform, partly because it's an outsider in Hollywood, and largely because studios worry that their content would somehow be more prone to piracy if Google somehow touched it. The fact that Google hasn't delivered a solid monetization plan to Hollywood execs-except for its own business--also has contributed to the hands-off reaction the company has seen from studios.
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