Updated: ABC, NBC, CBS Block Website Access from Google TV

If you were hoping to use your new Google TV device to stream full episodes of shows such as NBC's The Office, CBS' $h*! My Dad Says and ABC's Modern Family you may be out of luck. The three major U.S. television networks--ABC, CBS and NBC--are reportedly blocking full episode video streaming from their Websites to Google TV devices. The three networks now join Hulu as holdouts for providing content to Google's new set-top box. News Corp's Fox and Viacom are not currently blocking access to Google TV, although Fox says it may still do so, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Story updated 1:35 pm ET: The original headline was changed from to ABC, NBC, CBS Block Website Access to Google TV to the current headline at the request of YouTube. It points out "ABC, CBS and NBC are not blocked on Google TV. If (you) have basic cable or a tuner (you) can watch them with Google TV. What is blocked are videos (networks) uploaded to their websites."

What Google TV Is All About

Google, Sony and Logitech started rolling out Google TV devices earlier this month including one set-top box from Logitech, and one Blu-ray player and four HDTVs from Sony. The Android-based platform is the latest attempt to merge your living room television with the Web.

Google TV was designed to allow users to easily search for their favorite television shows across local television listings and Web sites offering streaming. Google TV can also run Android apps such as Netflix streaming, Pandora Internet radio and Amazon Video on Demand.

Ironically, NBC -- one of the networks blocking Google TV -- offers a CNBC Google TV application for fans of its news channel. Google TV also comes pre-loaded with Google's Chrome Web browser to surf the Web just as you would from your computer. Dish network subscribers can also use Google TV as a DVR.

Although all three networks confirmed to the Journal they are blocking access to Google TV, it's not clear if the ban is working that well. Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan reports that he was able to stream a full episode of The Office from NBC.com, and a partial episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation at CBS.com before being blocked. The Google TV restrictions at ABC.com and Hulu were in full force, according to Sullivan. Hulu, it should be noted, is working with Google to bring the site's Hulu Plus service to Google TV.

It's not clear why the networks are blocking Google TV, but it's not surprising that the networks would block Google TV. If successful, the technology could threaten the current business model for broadcast TV including lucrative distribution and advertising deals. Reuters reports that Google is in talks with the networks to lift the Google TV block.

Pointless Ban

Blocking access to online video may seem like a prudent strategic move in the short term, but the fact is the networks will not thwart Google TV owners who know where to look. Since Google TV comes loaded with the Chrome browser, Google TV owners could just navigate to the many sites that catalog pirate streams of network television. Everyday thousands of people upload recorded broadcast streams to one of the online video services such as Megavideo, ZShare and WiseVid. Other sites then catalog those videos allowing users to find content quickly and easily.

Google TV may be able to block those sites from its search results, but that won't stop someone who knows where to point their browser from finding all the online video content they will ever need.

Users are moving towards online video streaming in ever larger numbers and spending more time than ever viewing online video. In September, 175 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 14.4 hours of online video per user, according to metrics firm comScore. The year previous, comScore found that 168 million users in the U.S. watched an average of 9.8 hours of online video during the month of September.

Connect with Ian Paul ( @ianpaul ) on Twitter.

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