Google's Schmidt Reaches Out To TV Industry

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It’s a sign of changing times in the media industry that Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt should have been invited to give the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival this week. As Schmidt himself pointed out, he’s the first non-television executive to deliver the MacTaggart.

Schmidt covered a lot of ground concerning the convergence of TV and internet. But perhaps his most interesting comments concerned the company’s continued support for Google TV, which allows viewers to mix Web and TV content on TV screens via a browser. Despite a slow start in the US, Schmidt said: "We're absolutely committed to staying, to improving Google TV.” He predicted that the service would launch in Europe in early 2012.

To date, Google TV has faced two problems. Firstly, the technology is not yet embedded in many TV sets – limiting its potential usage. Secondly, traditional TV companies have resisted backing the service with their content, fearful that support for the platform will give Google the capability to add TV advertising to its lucrative online ad business.

However Schmidt believes co-operation between the two sectors can be a win-win. Arguing that better-targeted ads will encourage companies to spend more, he said: "Why can't we make the pot bigger? The question we see over and over again is how the internet has displaced some existing and fixed revenue stream, but that's not how the world works. You build new businesses. The majority of advertising money Google is getting is new money created from customers of one kind or another.”
Schmidt is optimistic that change will come. Sony and Logitech are already involved with Google TV as partners and Schmidt believes “there are many more coming. Wait shortly for an announcement.”