Google has signed on several cable programmers to its searchable video pilot. Launched in January, Google Video lets people search the content of TV programs and call up a still video image with closed-captioning text of the show. Searchable programming from C-SPAN and PBS were first in the lineup, but now the beta service also mines shows of The Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, Animal Planet and CNN, among others.
Counting new broadcasters on its side can only be a positive sign for Google's video aspirations, not to mention Web surfers. But the real challenge still looms. And that is for Google to allow playback of video clips, as opposed to displaying still images. Before that can happen, Google must come up with a business model and content protection that makes broadcasters happy. So far, they're only getting their feet wet.
Last week, Morgan Stanley financial guru Mary Meeker proposed a future business model for Google Video that relies on consumers to pay for video playback with Internet payment system Paypal. The viewer pays $1 to watch a video plus an ad; the broadcaster takes a cut; Google takes a cut. Everybody's happy.
That, however, depends heavily on consumer demand, the quality of the content, bandwidth, licensing and video technology. There's much to be hammered out.