Google Launching Satellite TV Search, Reports Suggest

Dennis Faas's picture

Google is rumored to be testing a search tool for Dish Network-powered televisions. It would allow users to search both for programming on the satellite broadcasts and for online videos.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the service is being tested with a small group of employees. Based on Android and designed for use with a plug-in keyboard, the service would work with Internet-enabled television sets. Those are becoming more popular with the advent of streaming versions of rental services such as Netflix and even Blockbuster. (Source:

The idea appears to be that the service would allow users to search for (and view) content from sites such as Hulu. It would also act as a way of searching TV listings, the theory being that Google's technology would be a more useful and efficient service than TV providers currently offer on their set-top boxes. Another possibility would be for the system to link to digital video recorders so that users could automatically record the programs they discover via search.

TV Search Device Cost Still Unknown

How the deal would work financially is unclear. It's possible that the TV providers could simply license the technology, but this wouldn't necessarily boost their revenues enough to justify the cost.

A more likely option is that Google could offer the service to providers for a cheap rate or even free of charge, but display relevant advertising alongside the search results -- just as it does online.

Google Already In TV Market

The service could also tie in with an existing Google program which sells advertising on behalf of very small cable channels.

Unlike most TV advertising, it uses set-top box data to discover exactly how many people view each ad and charges based on this audience. With smaller audiences this is much more accurate than traditional ads where rates are based on TV ratings derived from a small sample group. Such rates are also based on the audience a future TV show is expected to garner rather than the actual number of viewers who tune in.

It's important to note that the TV search idea is still at a very early test stage. There's no timetable for a public release, if indeed it does lead to anything.

Google Android At Heart Of System

It's interesting that the system runs on Android. That could conceivably mean that, if developed, the service would allow users to run applications designed for the system on their television. While that wouldn't be of much use for apps based around moving locations, it could be a handy way of getting online information on a television rather than having to navigate websites. (Source:

This sounds familiar. Why? According to rumors, Apple is thinking of extending the iPhone operating system not only to the iPad tablet computer, but to Apple TV, its system for streaming computer and online content to a television set. That too would open up the possibilities for TV-specific applications.

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