A lot of action took place on the convention center floor at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the unveiling of Google’s video store caused a commotion, to say the least. Along with Apple iTunes video download service that launched last November (by year’s end it had sold more than eight million downloads), Mountain View, California-based GVS stands to have the most impact on the internet video download space in the next six months.
Along with heavy hitters CBS and the National Basketball Association, Google has signed kids and family-centric Los Angeles-based content providers PorchLight Entertainment and Classic Media to its initial roster of partners. Director of Google Video Jennifer Feiken, says there’s definitely room for more kids and family content on the service, adding Google is not looking at getting into content production. Unlike rumors currently circulating about rival Yahoo!, GVS will only be set up to facilitate content distribution.
Designed to act as an open marketplace, Google is planning to open the service up to any content producers looking to sell their wares on-line in the next few months. And, as it does for its current partners, GVS will take care of collecting and splitting download revenues. Bill Baumann, PorchLight’s COO, says GVS offers content providers more than 50% of the gross revenues generated and it’s ‘one of the most favorable percentage breakdowns available in the digital rights industry right now.’
GVS also puts a lot of control in the hands of content providers. Classic Media’s VP of consumer products Leslie Levine, who helped broker the deal with Google, says Classic can set its own price points, enable/disable copyright protection and set territory restrictions on content. Suppliers can also determine whether consumers will be able to download their content permanently on to a hard drive, or ‘lease’ it for a set period of time, and grant/deny users permission to make DVD copies of the show or play it on more than one device.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks for smaller content providers right now is the sprawling nature of the service. Feiken says, beyond the four thumbnail previews at the top of the GVS home page featuring a rotation of premier partner content from CBS and the NBA, guaranteed placement isn’t an option. Instead, consumers can either perform word searches or use the set browser categories (i.e. movies, sports) tagged on the page to locate content.
To help drive traffic to GVS’s initial selection of Rocky and Bullwinkle 22-minute eps (US$1.99 each) and cut through the clutter, Levine’s working on cross-promotion strategies with the property’s website, mobile and DVD activities.