Google develops plug-&-play subscription service

Google is developing a subscription service that would be plug-and-play for publishers & consumers.

Updated: Mar 22, 2011, 20:55 PM IST

New York: Internet search engine Google is developing a subscription service that would be plug-and-play for publishers and consumers the world over.

In February, Google announced a subscription service called One Pass to enable consumers to buy professionally produced news and information across the Web with a single click.

And a great many new-media consuming devices featuring Google software called Honeycomb are about to come into the market, making that information all the more attractive and mobile.

Nowhere has Google``s growing media proficiency been more apparent than on YouTube, which is a platform that is looking more and more like a network for a post broadcast world.

YouTube``s home page, which used to be a user-generated free-for-all, now has a clear hierarchy of channels, with an array of topics, "Entertainment," "News and Politics" and "Sports".

Al Jazeera English, which can``t seem to find carriage in the broadcast and cable universe, has found a home on YouTube, where it has become the No. 3 news channel.

The company is also putting time and effort into expanding deals with the N.B.A. and the National Hockey League, because sports are a great way to build a network for the long term.

And as part of a deal that the company has with Lionsgate, clips from the company``s library could start showing up on YouTube with a split of advertising revenue and, eventually, a way to buy the movie or television show featured.

There have also been reports that Google has set aside 100 million dollars for incentives for well-known celebrities to program their own "channels" on YouTube to increase the amount of high-profile content on the platform.

And the media initiatives are not entirely new: Britain``s Channel 4 signed a three-year deal back in 2009 to make entire programs available for streaming on YouTube.

"There is no doubt in my mind they are becoming a media company," the New York Times quoted Mike Vorhaus, the president of the media consulting firm Magid Advisors, as saying.

"They are providing content to consumers and selling ads against it - sounds like a media company to me," he said.

Google has been spending a lot of time and some significant money trying to help traditional media businesses stay in business, in part because Google does not want its search engines to crawl across a wasteland of machine-generated info-spam and amateur content with limited allure.

With that objective in mind, the company has also tweaked its vaunted search algorithm to point toward new, real, trusted content and away from link-bait generic content cranked out by so-called content farms.

Even if it is a machine doing the executing, the company``s push for one kind of link over another is fundamentally an editorial exercise.

In essence, Google, which has cracked the code on the Web advertising model, has come to realize that if content becomes just a commodity, then advertising will follow suit.

"Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful Web sites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy Web ecosystem," the company said.

ANI