A new report from The Information claims Google CEO Sundar Pichai is making the company’s connected TV business a “top priority,” as the company battles rivals Amazon and Roku.
As outlined in a recent, in-depth analysis on the connected TV business from reporters Jessica Toonkel and Sahil Patel, Google has increased the amount it is willing to pay TV manufacturers to install its software on connected devices. The Information reports Google is willing to pay manufacturers from $10 to $15 per unit, compared to Roku’s $7 to $8 per unit fee.
Google’s push was successful enough to capture the business of Chinese TV manufacturer TCL. TCL, which is best known for its partnership with Roku, said it would start making TVs that feature Google’s OS. (TCL is also making private label TVs for Amazon in a manufacturing partnership.)
As American households continue to the cut the cord, competition in the connected TV space has heated up between Roku, Amazon, Google and Apple. These companies also compete TV manufacturers that have created their own platforms, including Vizio, LG and Samsung. Not to mention cable providers who have also launched streaming services, including Comcast.
Connected TV platforms get to decide whether Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and the like can offer their apps to consumers. In exchange, connected TV platforms take a cut of subscription revenue, advertising inventory or both. In some cases, connected TV platforms have not budged on distribution.
In fact, Google’s YouTube has threatened to pull its apps off Roku to new downloads after December 9, as both sides attempt to negotiate a new distribution agreement.
Google was early on its vision of a set-up box or streaming stick when it launched Google TV in 2010, in partnership with Sony, Intel and Logitech. That project gave way to the launch of Chromecast in 2013 and Android TV in 2014. Both products’ core functionalities were merged when Google launched its latest Chromecast with Google TV last year.
The company’s latest Chromecast model features the Android TV operating system, with a “Google TV” skin. To compete with offerings from Apple and Amazon, Google TV offers personalized viewing suggestions and easy access to the company’s OTT live streaming service, YouTube TV. The Information reports that Google is preparing to launch an extensive marketing campaign around Google TV.
The Information also reports that Google’s sales representatives have told media executives Google CEO Sundai Pichai has “made it clear” connected TVs are a top priority for Google, after many in the industry had seen Google’s efforts with Chromecast and Android TV as “half-hearted.”