Google Fattens Up Entertainment Programming Search Results

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Google will begin listing live air times for TV shows in its search results, Danial Alegre, president of global partnerships announced Wednesday in his keynote address at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas.

This new feature will allow users to search for movies and TV shows. Results will show availability on broadcast and cable TV channels, as well as through the streaming and online rentals that Google already lists. Further, users can provide Google with their location and their cable or satellite service, if applicable, to help streamline the search results.

In addition to helping viewers find programs, Google's results could create some competition for the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database, with Google providing cast information, plot summaries and even trailers.

Improvements to Google's DoubleClick ad platform will enable it to better target specific demographics on both live and on-demand TV, Alegre also said. He unveiled DoubleClick's Dynamic Ad Insertion, which is designed to create individual streams for specific viewers and thus deliver, according to the company, a better and more personalized viewing experience.

Google's plan to list live TV programming times may appeal especially to millennials and younger TV viewers who have not experienced scanning TV listings in the newspaper, or in the venerable TV Guide. This is the same audience that has emerged as cord-cutters or cord-nevers as TV viewing habits change.

However, Google isn't exactly inventing, or even reinventing, the wheel.

"TV listings information has been available for a long time on websites such as TV Guide, so having them available on Google is just making the TV listings data even easier to get," said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

The impact on cord cutting might not be that great, as this information is so widely available, he told the E-Commerce Times.

The addition of more expansive program listings in search may be just the first step in a larger play for Google, which also provides video content. That could have a far greater impact on cord cutting, as many viewers shift toward watching TV on mobile devices.

Total digital media use nearly has tripled since 2010, and it has been up 35 percent since 2013, according to a recent comScore report, with smartphones having seen the most growth. Google Sites ranked as the No. 1 digital media property every month of 2015 -- and could be the first to surpass 250 million visitors.

"The exposure of alternative sources of content -- e.g., Google Play, YouTube -- over time might convince people that they can cut the cord and still watch their favorite programs," remarked Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights at the Local Search Association.

Google may just be one option.

"A majority of people know where they can watch desired programs beyond cable TV already," Sterling told the E-Commerce Times.

The additional information could be a way for Google to have a greater connection with TV, though, and with it the potential to expand its advertising reach.

"Google can integrate the listings information with its other data sets," noted Recon Analytics' Entner. "Where it becomes especially interesting is that Google can now include the TV listings data in its data analytics efforts, as it seems to have licensed the information."

Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and fitness-related trends for more than a decade. His work has appeared in more than three dozen publications, and he is the co-author of Careers in the Computer Game Industry (Career in the New Economy series), a career guide aimed at high school students from Rosen Publishing. You can connect with Peter on Google+.

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