Google plans online video store

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Google will on Friday announce plans for an online video service that will carry a wide range of entertainment, sports and news programming, according to a person familiar with its plans.

The web search company will also contribute to a “bundle” of consumer software that will be offered free over the internet, marking an attempt by Microsoft rivals to cement their position on the PC desktop before the launch of the next version of the Windows operating system.

The pay-per-download video service, dubbed the Google Video Store, is one of the most ambitious attempts to bring traditional television content to the internet. For Google, it signals the first broad service where people will be expected to pay for content, as well as the first time the company has forged deeper commercial relationships with content owners.

The service’s content will include TV shows from CBS, music videos from Sony BMG and news from ITN, as well as footage from the National Basketball Association.

The search company hopes to position the video service as the web’s first “open digital content marketplace”, where owners of video content can make as much of their material available as they want, according to the person familiar with its plans.

Access to the store will be through an iTunes-like interface that will require users to download a Google “player” on to their computers.

In another sign on Thursday of the hunt by TV networks to find new ways to reach paying viewers, News Corp’s Fox Entertainment Group announced a partnership with DirecTV that will make programmes from its FX cable network available through video-on-demand as much as two days before they are shown on TV.

The Fox announcements follow those of other big networks to sell their shows through new digital distribution channels or through cable and satellite video-on-demand.

However, it marks the first time that a network has offered its programming to online consumers before it is broadcast on TV – something that could make it susceptible to piracy.

The Google consumer software bundle will bring a new level of co-operation between a number of Microsoft rivals.

Adobe’s Acrobat document reader, RealNetworks’ media player, Symantec’s anti-virus software, Firefox’s web browser and Google’s search service all face greater competition from the next version of Windows, which is due for release late this year.

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