Google's IPTV service missing major cable nets, including ESPN

Michelle Clancy | 31-07-2012

In an eerie echo of its struggle with the Google TV set-top box (STB) release, Google is once again finding itself without several important mainstream channels for its video aspirations.

The Internet giant is launching IPTV service in Kansas City (registration opened last week), but Disney/ESPN, CNN, TBS, FOX and HBO all have yet to sign on for the service.

Google Fiber TV and broadband, which will deliver a 1Gbps connection to the home and cost $120 per month, will launch with 161 channels, but it's unclear how compelling of a competitor it will be without stalwarts like CNN and, crucially, sports programming from ESPN.

"Without the full suite of traditional cable channels, it is doubtful Google will be able to attract core TV viewers and get them to switch from traditional cable," Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a research note.

But all hope is not lost: discussions are ongoing. "We've had several productive conversations with Google regarding the test launch of their fibre network in Kansas City," TBS noted in a statement. "Consistent with how we approach our business, we continue to explore opportunities with all of our partners on new models and technologies that allow for expanded distribution of our leading brand of networks and content within the Turner portfolio, regardless of screen size or platform."

The service includes local affiliate feeds from the majors, plus a range of cable nets like USA Network, Bravo and MSNBC; the Viacom networks including Comedy Central, Nick, MTV, BET and CMT; Discovery, A&E, Bio and History; Food Network and HGTV; and many more. The full list can be found here:

The Showtime and Starz premium channels are also included. And, to make up for the sports deficit left by ESPN, the service includes the MLB, NFL and NHL networks, NBC Sports Networks and the new 3DTV network, 3netGoogle Fiber TV includes local broadcast.