Wither Google TV: Nearly Two Years Later, It Still Awaits Hulu Plus

Did you hear the news? Hulu Plus made it to Apple TV last week. Did Hell freeze over? No. The freezing over of Hell still awaits the arrival of Hulu Plus on Google TV. The Promise I feel like I’m the last person in the world who still cares about Hulu Plus ever being offered […]

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Picture 201Did you hear the news? Hulu Plus made it to Apple TV last week. Did Hell freeze over? No. The freezing over of Hell still awaits the arrival of Hulu Plus on Google TV.

The Promise

I feel like I’m the last person in the world who still cares about Hulu Plus ever being offered through Google TV. I suppose I shouldn’t care. It’s not like I even turn Google TV on regularly. For all Google TV promised, my inexpensive little Roku box still beats Google TV hands-down.

For those who don’t remember, Google TV was pitched as making it easy for us to find TV content anywhere. In fact, that was one of the reasons I began covering it through our Search Engine Land sister-site. People are trying to find television content. It’s a popular search activity, so this was a new way Google was delivering results.

The Roadblocks

Google immediately hit a roadblock when major US television networks began blocking Google TV users from reaching their content online. A little payback for those networks feeling like Google doesn’t want to pay them enough for their content or doesn’t do enough to stop piracy. Ironically, that type of action probably increased the chances of piracy, driving people off the more controlled platform of Google TV and into the Wild West of their web browser.

All still might have been fine if Hulu was made available through Google TV. Do that, and people in the US (where Google TV was targeted) could find plenty of TV content. It seemed like an ideal solution, too. Most of the same TV networks upset with Google would get income from Hulu Plus subscribers coming through Google’s own device.

But Hulu Plus never arrived. Today, Google TV is still waiting for it. Hulu Plus made it to Xbox. It’s made it to my Samsung TV. It’s made it to some Android phones and tablets. Last week, as I said, it made it to Apple TV. But Google TV? Forget it.

I checked with both Hulu and Google last week for a status update. The story was the same from both. No news to share. At least we’re past pretending there’s some technical challenge.

While We Wait: Improve TV Search?

While we’re waiting, here’s a though. Google TV has an excellent TV search feature that’s never made it out into Google’s regular search:

15 Photos Google+

15 Photos Google+ 1

15 Photos Google+ 2

Roll that out into Google search, Google. Maybe it will help with the piracy perception problem you have with Hollywood and the entertainment industry, which in turn might help with making those deals you need.

The Nexus Q Cure?

Device QGoogle TV has bigger problems than the lack of Hulu Plus, of course. It was overcomplicated to use from the start.

With the Roku, just three “channels” of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon gave me access to plenty of TV far more easily than Google TV ever did, at a far cheaper price, in a device much easier to use. Apple did the same with the notable exception of omitting Hulu. Now that’s solved.

That leads to the Nexus Q. I have one that Google sent me. So far, the same joke keeps running through my head, when I think about it. “The Nexus Q, three times the price of Apple TV for one-third the functionality.” If you want YouTube or to purchase content through Google Play, you’re covered. But Netflix? Hulu? No such luck.

Of course, you can’t even buy the Nexus Q now, since its launch has been delayed, as was headlines last week. From the email Google sent to those who had ordered one (and still got them, for free, nice!):

When we announced Nexus Q at Google I/O, we gave away devices to attendees for an early preview. The industrial design and hardware were met with great enthusiasm.

We also heard initial feedback from users that they want Nexus Q to do even more than it does today. In response, we have decided to postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better.

What it could do better, in my opinion, is do what the Roku and Apple do. Provide access to the major channels of Netflix and Hulu. That, combined with the purchase options offered by Google Play, would make the Nexus Q a compelling choice compared to those other devices, assuming the price was also dropped to the $100 range.

We’ll see. A nice feature would be to bring cross-channel searching on the Nexus Q. Let people search and find content that’s available across channels offered on the Nexus Q. That’s less ambitious than the original Google TV goal, but it’s still useful.

Neither Apple TV nor Roku do this, and it sure would be nice to learn if a TV show is available for free on Netflix or Hulu before I consider purchasing it through Amazon (on the Roku) or iTunes (on the Apple TV).

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan was a journalist and analyst who covered the digital and search marketing space from 1996 through 2017. He was also a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land, MarTech, and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events. He retired from journalism and Third Door Media in June 2017. You can learn more about him on his personal site & blog He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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