Who could have thunk that Kansas City, Kansas, would ever be the mecca for all things Internet television? A Major League Soccer club, yes. The cutting edge of TV-watching habits, meh.
But that’s what we have on our hands after Friday, when Google Fiber announced that it was going to light up its second “firberhood,” which, coincidentally, happens to be in Kansas City. Labeled “Dub’s Dread,” the move comes in light of Google giving the green light to its Fiber operation back in July. The neighborhood selected has been based on response to what the company called a six week rally, which required Kansas City residents to pre-register for the service and pay 10 bucks. Whichever neighborhood had the most people sign up won the chance to have the Fiber service installed in the houses that make up the block. And what’s Google Fiber, you ask?
“According to Google, the service will deliver 1 Gbps downstream and upstream speeds to users, with cloud storage included and no caps or overages,” DSL Reports’ Karl Bode wrote earlier this year. “Google Fiber Television supports many of the technology you’d expect, including multi-room DVR functionality and tablets/smartphones as remote controls. Google has designed new DVR, Set top and Wi-Fi gateways that all look roughly the same (black, rectangular, with one blue LED). The company is offering Google Fiber in three flavors to local residents. One is the Google TV and Fiber package, which includes a symmetrical 1 Gbps connection, and one bundle of television channels (all major broadcast networks, hundreds of fiber channels, on demand, all in HD), and a free Google Nexus 7 tablet to be used as a remote control — all for $120 a month. Google says if users sign a two-year contract, they’ll waive the install/construction fee.”
So, why does this matter, the all-knowing blog-reader-extraordinaire asks. Well, that’s because of what Matt Eastwood, chief creative director of DDB New York, wrote for Forbes earlier today. According to him, this advancement is going to give the normal folk a much more enticing reason to finally cut the their traditional cable television packages once and for all. And his points sound awfully intriguing …
“So what might this future look like? More interactive? Definitely. More real-time? Naturally,”Eastwood wrote. “Imagine how smoothly shows like ‘American Idol’ will run when viewed on Internet-connected TVs. Forget phone numbers; you’ll just vote through the TV. Product placement will be on another level. Clothing worn by characters will be buyable through the TV interface. The biggest change to our industry, however, will likely fall in the purchasing and production of ads (media vs. advertising), with the two entities moving closer together as advertising reaches new levels of customization unsuited to the ‘spots available for purchase now’ model.”
Ah-ha! Look at that — the future of Internet television will also dictate the media advertising world! I told you this was important stuff!
“Advertisers have long relied on cable TV to provide access to their target audience,” he continued. “But in the next few years, the audience simply won’t be there. They will (finally) begin accessing content through a host of other providers like Hulu+, iTunes, Netflix and Apple TV. It will require a total rethink of what constitutes commercial content. There may well be no place at all for :30 TV spots. Sure, there’s pre-roll, but doesn’t that already feel like an idea that’s past its time? While the more adventurous marketers have been experimenting with branded content and social media for some time, TV spots are still the fallback choice for the majority of the United States’ big marketers. Advertisers will need to find not only new ways to reach their audience but, in many cases, new ways to measure that reach. Moreover, they’ll need to find new ways to research ideas in the first place when quant testing a :30 spot is no longer as predictable. Clients will always need research validation, but we’ll need to devise new ways of pre-testing a one-hour piece of branded content or an app-based communications platform.”
Take that, you nonexistent Emmy Awards feed!
Anyway, the consequences of this may be a bit more important than it seems at first glance. For months (maybe even years) Google has struggled with launching a successful television service. The race for Web TV dominance has increased in stakes as of late because of Apple’s constant flirtation with the medium. That said, nobody — again, NOBODY — has made a significant wave, regardless of how strikingly clear it’s become that this industry is on the table for someone to take.
I’d be interested to see how these people in Kansas City have responded to the Google Fiber product on a personal level. Because the neighborhoods are so small — and because I am stuck here, living and working in the fine state of Maryland, thus taking away my ability to actually do some real reporting — chances are we won’t hear the response these folks may have, good or bad. Has it changed their viewing habits? Has it taken them away from their desktop for things such as email or news consumption? Is the HD picture really that good?
Either way, the idea itself could eventually be labeled as the first step toward getting the majority of the population in a selected area weaned off conventional television. You have to start small, remember, before building a legitimate trend, and while Kansas City might not be the most sexy pick for where to give this thing a test run, it’s certainly not Boonsboro. Who knows — if Apple continues to stall its plans to move toward this particular market, maybe five years from now, we’ll all be celebrating a revolutionary product called Google Fiber.
Well, that or another mini version of the iPad.
Your move, Timmy Cook.