January 9, 2006, 12:00 AM

Google goes Hollywood

Google is planning to enter the TV and film business with the launch of the Google Video Store, where consumers will be able to download film and TV programming videos ranging from professional basketball games to re-runs of I Love Lucy, Google said.

Google Inc. is planning to enter the TV and film business with the launch of the Google Video Store, where consumers will be able to download film and TV programming videos ranging from professional basketball games to news shows and re-runs of I Love Lucy as well as home videos, Google said.

"Google video will let you watch lots of high quality video on the web for the first time,” said Larry Page, Google`s co-founder and president of products. "For video producers and anyone with a video camera, Google Video will give you a platform to publish to the entire Google audience in a fast, free and seamless way."

Google said the video store would launch “soon” but did not say when. A beta version is available at Video.Google.com.

"This is yet another exciting platform in which CBS can leverage its market-leading content to a whole new audience," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corp., one of Google’s partners in the venture. "Making our programming accessible to the Google Video Store guarantees our shows significant new exposure to millions of users who are likely to access this web service and who may not be traditional TV viewers.”

Google will use its own media player and digital rights management software, and plans to charge up to $1.99 per download. It is also working with DivX Inc., a provider of video compression technology, to make its video downloads compatible on most consumer electronics devices used for viewing videos.

“We see this activity as being high and growing at a rapid pace,” says Gerry Davidson, senior media analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings. “The overall increase in broadband into the household is leading to more things like downloading of large files.”

In a related move, Akimbo and Thomson are working with Movielink LLC, a joint venture of major movie production houses, to let consumers download about 1,200 Movielink videos onto a new Akimbo player available this spring, the companies said last week.

Also, Clear Channel Radio today announced a beta launch of its Videos on Demand feature on 16 of its radio station web sites, showcasing music videos from 40 recording labels.

Netflix Inc., meanwhile, says it will stick to its form of mail-delivered movie DVDs for the foreseeable future. “Downloading is cool, and as it evolves we’ll be right there with it,” a spokesman says, adding that most movie content is still available on DVDs rather than through downloads. Netflix carries about 55,000 movie titles in its library and ships about 35,000 titles every day, he adds.

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