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Google TV Loses Fox and Gains Sony Pictures

MULTIPLE CITIES.: The online video playing field continues to shift. Fox yanked its content from Google TV yesterday just as Sony Pictures stepped in with free movies. Fox was the only major broadcast network among the Big Four allowing Google TV access to its content, but that ended this week. Google TV users got a message that Fox content was “not compatible with your device.”

Google still has content from the Turner networks and PBS among others. The web-to-TV platform also now features the Sony Pictures library. Sony this week said it optimized its movie streaming site-- Crackle--for use with Google TV. Sony’s titles include “The Fisher King,” “Gardens of Stone,” “The Quick and the Dead,” “Glory,” “Stripes” and “Taxi Driver” among others. Several live and animated TV series are also available through the site.

Crackle launched three years ago as Grouper, and has struggled to develop a following. PaidContent.org notes that it had 4.1 million unique viewers in July. Fox Interactive Media, by comparison, had more than 38 million, according to comScore. Google video sites, meaning mostly YouTube, was tops with 143 million.

Crackle was walled last year to users outside of the United States. Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have now been let in, and Sony continues to push it onto various platforms. The Google TV alliance extends it to Android-operated mobile devices. MobiTV recently announced plans to extend its provision of Crackle and bring it “to tablets in the near future.”

Crackle content is also available at Hulu.com, which is also walled from Google TV--possibly because revenues on the rise. Hulu is the home of streaming episodic TV from ABC, NBC and Fox. Its chief, Jason Kilar, said this week that the site has around 30 million users a month and will likely generate $240 million this year, up from $108 million in 2009, according to GigaOm’s NewTeeVee.

Google TV continues to press on despite content challenges. Dish Network this week announced a promo for the stand-alone Google TV set-top box. Dish is offering the Logitech Revue at a $120 discount. (See “Dish Offers Discounted Google TV Box.”) -- Deborah D. McAdams