Google entering video-on-demand business

Service will let users pay 99 cents to $3.95 for recent and classic movies, TV shows, sports games.

LAS VEGAS--Google announced a service Friday that will let people rent or buy downloadable videos online, including classic and contemporary CBS television shows and NBA basketball games.

With Google Video Store, which the company said will be "available soon" at consumers will pay $1.99 to download and view, for an unlimited time, episodes from last season's "Survivor" series, as well as episodes of 300 older TV programs like "I Love Lucy," said Peter Chane, senior business product manager for Google Video. The announcement was made in conjunction with a keynote address by Google co-founder Larry Page at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

Also for $1.99, people will be able to rent, for 24 hours, recent episodes of popular TV series from CBS like "NCIS," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "The Amazing Race," Chane said. National Basketball Association games shown on TV can be downloaded for permanent purchase within one day of broadcast for $3.95, he said. Classic NBA games will also be available.

Other content comes from independent film provider Greencine, U.K. TV network ITN and the producers of "The Charlie Rose Show," which is offering older shows for 99 cents each. The Charlie Rose content is not copy protected and can be moved to portable devices and Google Video Player for offline viewing. All the other available content is copy protected, and users will not be able to share it with other devices, according to Chane.

Google Video Store customers will make payments with a credit card through Google's account system, as they do with the Google AdWords advertising system and other Google services, he said. There will be no ads in the videos or on the video Web pages, though Google is looking into providing ad-based video in the future, Chane said.

Major content providers will get more than half the amount from each transaction, Chane said.

"We think this is an historic move for video," Chane said in an interview. "It's the first time content providers can distribute to a broad audience online."

Google has avoided the stumbling blocks that have kept video-on-demand from the PC, including developing a monetization model and methods that protect copyrights and prevent piracy, Chane said.

Also Friday, Google announced Google Pack, a software package that includes homegrown programs like Google Talk, the Google Toolbar, the Google Desktop, Google Alerts and the Google Video Player, as well as third-party software including the Firefox browser, anti-spyware from LavaSoft, Adobe PDF Reader 7, Norton's antivirus program, Trillian Instant Messenger and RealPlayer.

The Google Pack will be available for free download, and is designed to be easy to install, maintain and automatically update. The auto-update feature doesn't work on the Mac, but Apple offers a similar auto-update service.

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