Google is latest to explore OTT service

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has reportedly held talks with TV networks about licensing their programming for an over-the-top pay-TV service. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, the online search giant has demonstrated a version of the product to at least one potential programming partner.

The idea is to provide the same type of service offered by pay-TV distributors such as Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), but over the Internet.

If the reports are true, Google would join Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in the hunt for a new way to offer TV service to consumers. The attention paid to those companies has apparently created some urgency on Google's part, according to the Times.

"Google feels the need to beat Apple to the punch," a person with direct knowledge of Google's discussions with TV networks told the Times.

It's not clear whether TV networks are interested. They have historically had a host of concerns about online distribution that range from the ability to prevent it from being copied to worrying about alienating--or running afoul of contractual obligations to--their existing distribution partners.

For more:
- the Wall Street Journal had this story (sub. req.)
- the New York Times had this story

Commentary: Can pay-TV go over the top?

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