May 23, 2010

Of cricket, Google TV and altered playing fields

As the masses dissect Thursday's reveal of Google TV -- and Mark Cuban's blog has an interesting take on it -- the debate is on about how successful it will be. While not everything Google has touched turns to gold, it consistently has been ahead of the curve. Its recent foray into broadcasting live sports is the most recent example.

YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, just concluded broadcasting cricket around the globe to unparalleled success. YouTube carried the Indian Premier League's third season, broadcasting the league's 60 matches live. 

YouTube's IPL channel reportedly got 54 million video views. To put that into perspective, NBC got 45 million video streams for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. According to the New York Times, 40 percent of the IPL viewers came from outside of India.

It was the first time YouTube carried a major sporting event. It won't be the last. Google has already indicated it will pursue other sports to broadcast live, and other events such as concerts. India has a population of nearly 1.2 billion. Getting 54 million streams for the IPL was just a first step. Sports that attract global audiences -- think soccer, cycling and field hockey -- may be next up.

Google's foray into streaming the IPL on YouTube in real time was indicative of the company's foresight and its willingness to jump on ideas instead of waiting for them to be validated by others.

As important, it also represented the expansion of Google's reach. And when it comes down to it, isn't that what Google and Google TV is all about? As Google extends its reach, it expands its lucrative targeted advertising and search businesses as well as its Android platform.

Additionally, if Google TV helps blur the line between TV and the Internet, it will narrow the disparity between money advertisers spend on TV vs. the Internet for properties such as the IPL. When that gap closes, Internet ventures will gain even more clout and gain even more revenue potential.

If that happens, Google will have altered the playing field. And not just the ones hosting cricket.

The future of Google TV is . . .  {blog maverick}
Google sees a new role for YouTube: An outlet for live sports {N.Y. Times}
Indian Premier League crickets scores big on YouTube {Wall Street Journal}
Google unwraps its long-awaited TV platform: Plans to ship in fall {PaidContent}
Google TV: Next big thing or wishful thinking {PaidContent}

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