Google Launches Paid Video Download Service

Moving ever closer to portaldom, Google has gotten
into the content distribution business.

President Larry Page announced the Google Video Store on Friday at the
Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

The Video Store combines video search with Google-made digital rights
management (DRM) and the long-rumored Google Payments system.

The Google Video Store lets users search for video stored on Google’s
servers, then download it using a new Google Video Player. If the content
provider has specified a fee, Google will collect it and take a 30 percent
cut. Google began
accepting video uploads in April 2005.

Peter Chane, a Google senior product manager, said the store represents a
significant enhancement to Google Video, released
in June 2005. “We had two main goals,” he told internetnews.com, “connecting users with video
content that’s not on the Internet and trying to help content providers
bring their content onto the Internet.”

The Google Video Store will provide a new revenue stream for the search
goliath, while offering video creators at least the possibility of
collecting some money. For example, the store launch features two
independent films, “Aardvark’d” and “Waterborne.”

“These films struggled to find distribution and audience,” Chane said.

But Dan Rayburn, executive vice president of streamingmedia.com, an
industry news site, doubted that many people would buy indie content, even
for $0.99. “Nobody is going to pay a dollar to watch it,” he said. “They
need to make deals with major companies.”

Chane said the store, opening around 4 PM PST on Friday, would have over
5000 titles from more than 40 content providers for sale. Offerings include
over 300 TV episodes from CBS, including “Survivor” and “CSI,” archives
of “The Charlie Rose Show,” and broadcasts by the National Basketball
Association. People will be able to purchase video of full games 24 hours
after they finish, as well as famous games.

The store will include music videos from Sony, but no music. Chane
wouldn’t comment on plans to also sell music.

Although Google recently announced a strategic partnership with AOL that included favored placement of AOL
content throughout Google search, the Google Video Store does not include
AOL content.

“We will bring more and more video content online,” Chane said. “Many
content providers were reluctant to bring their content online without
monetization and copy protection.”

Google has added its own DRM software to the store, which is optional for
content owners to use. The DRM only works with the Google Video Player,
which only works on Microsoft Windows; Chane said Google
is committed to delivering versions of the video player for Linux and
Macintosh.

To pay for downloads, consumers will need a Google account, to which they
associate a credit card. Chane said the Video Store will use the same
payment processing platform that Google uses for its self-serve keyword
advertising program, AdSense, and for Google Answers, which lets people pay
others to find the answers to questions.

Chane declined to comment on whether credit-card-enabled Google accounts
might later be used to purchase other things. Google is rumored to be
planning to let people not only post items for sale to its Google Base, but
also to buy them from others in an eBay-like manner.

Chane said video search results will be ranked based on relevancy, while
users will also have ways to browse through the offerings. “There will be no
ads on the search results pages or the videos themselves,” he said. “We’re
monetizing this through purchases.”

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