Without more TV content, Google Fiber could be hurting

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) tomorrow will announce which 180 neighborhoods (out of 202 in the two-state Kansas City region) get to be "fiberhoods," eligible to buy ultra-high-speed broadband and pay TV packages from the search-engine-become-much-more company. What it may not announce, however, is where it will get TV content that wants to make consumers--estimated by some analysts to be as many as 24,000 city residents--in those fiberhoods switch from AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse or Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

"Google still faces a big challenge acquiring TV content that's competitive with the fare offered by Time Warner Cable and other local pay TV providers, such as AT&T," an Investor's Business Daily story said, quoting ISI Group analyst Vijay Jayant as saying that "Google's programming offerings leave many gaps."

Being Google, it's logical to assume some of those gaps will be covered by online video purveyors like Hulu, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and YouTube, which Google owns. On the other hand, those three don't necessarily make up for a lack of more traditional programming.

"It appears Google TV will not include TNT, CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports, to name just a few," Tim Horan, an analyst with Oppenheimer, told the publication.

Google's biggest programming coup had been the NFL Network, which is unavailable on Time Warner Cable, until it announced a deal with Disney/ESPN media networks to add ABC Family, ABC News Now, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, the Longhorn Network and SOAPnet. The service provider had previously announced deals with Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Discovery (Nasdaq: DISCA) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) (Starz and NBC Universal). Time Warner (NYSE: TWX),and News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), though, are still outside the fold.

Lacking a full programming lineup Google will have to lean on its broadband prowess and perks like a giveaway Google Nexus 7 tablet to be used as a TV remote and online file storage device. There is the possibility that Google could, intentionally or not, be breaking the pay TV mold by forcing its subscribers to find video online. If it is intentional, the company hasn't said so publicly.

While cable companies are watching their pay TV subscriber numbers dwindle, those are the cash cows that drive the business, not broadband, so Google may be hard pressed to make money if it's counting on its $120 TV/broadband bundle to carry the load.

For more:
Investor's Business Daily has this story
MultiChannel News has this story

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