I’d say about half of my TV watching is the Daily Show and the Colbert Report on Comedy Central (I’ve also been known to enjoy the occasional South Park). Until this weekend, I could do so on my GoogleTV.
As of last night, Viacom unceremoniously pulled their content from GoogleTV. That includes the aforementioned Comedy Central, MTV Networks/VH1 and, sadly for my kid, Nickelodeon. Luckily, PBS Kids has a special site built for GoogleTV and YouTube has years worth of content to keep the little ones occupied.
But what about my Daily Show fix?
At the moment, you can still change the User Agent in Chrome and watch full episodes of Viacom shows (just like Fox), but it is only a matter of time until they really nail down the embargo.
Viacom (viab) and Google (GOOG) aren’t terribly friendly to begin with. The ongoing courtroom battle with Google’s YouTube division is one of the dirtiest out there, so the move is not a surprise as much as a letdown.
The good news is that there are a ton of alternatives. I use an old Mac Mini as a media center in my bedroom which still streams Viacom TV (as well as Hulu, CBS, ABC, etc) content just fine. I also have a HDMI hookup for my laptop, which also lets me watch television on my HDTV without too much fuss (though I curse the execs making these decisions when I have to give up my laptop to watch TV).
The Daily Show isn’t on Hulu or Netflix, unfortunately, so there isn’t any recourse there. I pulled the cable plug long ago so my $299 GoogleTV is quickly becoming a Netflix box, which I could just swap a $69 Roku device for to watch 30 Rock and The Office.
The list of remaining networks and shows available on GoogleTV is at GTVhub. My favorite is quickly becoming TBS/TNT, which offers some quality re-runs, like Seinfeld and The Office, but the GoogleTV is no longer a device that seems made for “cord cutters.”
The best cable alternative I’ve found at the moment is this little Orb TV rebroadcasting solution, which takes content from my media center Mac Mini and streams it over WiFi to my HDTV. It is a bit slow to get started and switch “channels” but it lets me watch anything I can watch on a computer on my HDTV. The Orb has an Android and iPhone app, which allows anyone in the room to control the programming.
Orb says that it is impossible for the networks to block the Orb because of its place-shifting technology, without blocking the content for PC users entirely.
And that is precisely my point — if the networks allow content to be streamed to a computer, it can be put on a TV. So why fight it?
Hopefully, the networks will come around. The improved analytics and targeting favor Internet TV solutions like Google’s in the long run.