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Google's Growing TV Troubles

Stocks in this article: GOOG SNE LOGI TWX NFLX AMZN

By Chris Morris, Special to

Google TV just can't catch a break -- and the repercussions could reach beyond the search giant.

The Web-meets-TV set-top box was meant to make it easy for users to find whatever video they were looking for on their television sets -- both on the air and online.

But the number of content providers who are blocking access from Google TV has grown steadily since the service's launch. Hulu was first, but it wasn't long before the networks were also preventing the service from streaming their video content.

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The joining of ranks among content providers couldn't come at a worse time for Google (GOOG). As the holiday season approaches and shoppers debate whether to splurge for Google TV, there is less and less programming to watch on the device.

Even more frustrating: it doesn't look like the standoff will end anytime soon.

"I don't see any signs they're figuring this out," says James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Google is a company that's based on engineering, but doesn't understand human passions. If they had done the business sensible thing, they would have called the content providers before the reveal and say: 'We want to announce this. We want your cooperation. Here's how we think you can make money on it. Let's talk.' As far as I know, those conversations never happened."

The setback not only affects Google, but its partners in Google TV -- Sony (SNE) and Logitech (LOGI), which are both actively promoting the product. The service is integrated into certain Sony TV models and in Logitech's Revue set-top box.

"They can't be particularly happy about this," notes McQuivey. "Also, Best Buy (BBY) has committed a lot of end cap space to promote it this holiday and it's hating life right now."

At present, the only major content provider that's allowing Google TV to access its video is Time Warner (TWX). Otherwise, premium content is by subscription online from the usual suspects -- Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), etc. Those companies already offer their services on a slew of consumer electronics, though, and have even been integrated directly into many newer TV models.

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