Google to launch first pay-TV service in Kansas City

Google recently requested permission to provide video service to residents in Kansas City -- a move that would mean major competition for cable providers such as Time Warner Inc.

Kansas City, the testing ground for Google’s ultra high-speed broadband network , may soon become home to another of the company’s experiments.

Last week, Google Inc. filed for a video franchise license with both the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission. Such a license would give the business permission to offer a pay-TV service—similar to a cable TV package—to residents of the border-straddling city.

While Google is still in negotiations to license channels to the service, the pay-TV program could launch as early as next month, a media executive involved in the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal. According to the source, the service would offer subscribers live TV, on-demand capabilities and online access to channels.

Google chose Kansas City, Kansas last year as the first location for its Google Fiber network—an Internet service with speeds 100 times faster than the current average. Roll out of the program began on both the Kansas and Missouri side of the city earlier this month.

So what makes the Midwestern hub such a prime test market for Google?

Michael Humphrey of Forbes weighs in:

Why? Kansas Citians are largely tech-friendly without being hyper about early adoption. It’s a community that loves television — and a wide variety of entertainment. It is a diverse community, if not all that integrated, and business-friendly.

I spent half of my life living and working in that fine city and perhaps the most useful insight I can provide is this: Kansas Citians will neither resist good change nor succumb to change for change’s sake. Oh yeah, and Time Warner Cable would be its main competitor. Not exactly the most popular company in the world.

If the launch of the service is successful, Google will score yet another platform on which to sell advertisements, finally making a place for itself in the TV ad market.

Images: Wikimedia, KCBirdFan/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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