Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is The Future Of Broadcasting Following Google's Yellow Brick Road ?

Google Fibre's application to set up a satellite farm in Council Bluffs, Iowa, next to one of its existing data centers, can mean only one thing... expect YouTube to get into simulcasting. The farm is basically a downlink facility to enables the ingestion of large numbers of broadcast stations, presumably for simul-transmission over the internet to its fibre rollout in Kansas City, MO.

In the US this will be quite a challenge - both legally and logistically. I'm surprised that Google isn't trialing this in the UK where it would have a number of things going for it:

1) Legally, the re-transmission of free-to-air channels is a grey area, but TV Catchup has been doing it for years based on the apocryphal 'Rediffusion Rule' (whereby TV free-to-air TV signals were allowed to be re-transmitted so they could reach geographically disadvantages receivers/viewers in the Welsh valleys).

2) BT Wholesale has rolled out multicast, so the cost of delivery would be a pittance compared to delivering over US unicast networks.

3) There are fewer broadcasters to deal with.

4) Google is utterly dominant in the world's third biggest ad market.

But, no, they've chosen Kansas City - a city that straddles two states in the Midwest. I guess we need to follow the yellow brick road to see what the future of TV holds in Google's hands.