Google turns to X Factor's Simon Fuller for push into TV
- The Observer
- Sunday November 11 2007
Internet giant Google is in secret talks with Simon Fuller, the British entrepreneur behind the Spice Girls, about a joint venture that could change the way TV is watched over the internet.
News of the collaboration will prompt speculation that Google's plans for the TV market include generating original content and competing with major broadcasters.
Executives from the £229bn internet giant have been in discussions with Fuller, who invented Pop Idol, the world's most successful TV franchise, for about a year. Although details of the deal are a closely guarded secret, sources close to Fuller say it could revolutionise the way entertainment and music are distributed.
'It's a big idea on a global scale,' he said. 'It will change television in much the way iTunes changed the way music is disseminated.'
Last year saw the launch of Google Video, which offers full-length TV programmes and films on a pay-per-view basis over the internet. The company signed up partners including ITN, US network CBS and music company Sony BMG to provide content. Hit shows, including CSI, Survivor and the US version of Big Brother were available online. Users paid around £1 to watch shows; live sports events cost more. The venture was not a success, and Google changed its strategy, ploughing money into YouTube, which it acquired last year.
Although he is best known for his association with the Spice Girls and managing David Beckham, Fuller created the Pop Idol format and its hugely successful US spin-off American Idol. Versions of the programme are now screened in more than 30 countries. He also shares the rights to hit show The X Factor with Simon Cowell, Fuller's collaborator and occasional rival.
The winner of last year's show, Leona Lewis, had a number-one hit with 'Bleeding Love' and her new album, Spirit, is expected to top the charts when it is released tomorrow.
Cowell, an American Idol judge and the programme's star, created The X Factor but reached an agreement with Fuller after he threatened to sue Cowell for copyright infringement. Another Fuller show, The Next Great American Band, debuted in the US last month.
More people are watching TV on-line than ever before as new technology, including powerful broadband connections, allows users to download video footage. PCs are eventually expected to merge with TV sets, and some of the world's biggest companies, including Microsoft, Apple and Google want to muscle in on this massive market.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Google's advertising revenues had overtaken those of ITV1, Britain's biggest commercial TV channel.