By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006
Discovery Communications Inc. is teaming up with Google to offer video clips of historic sites and other spots around the world through Google Earth software, one of several new ways the Silver Spring cable programmer is distributing its content beyond television.
Discovery, which operates more than 100 networks in 170 countries, will integrate streaming video of locations such as Yellowstone National Park, the Great Wall of China and Trafalgar Square into Google Earth, Google's satellite imagery-based mapping product, the company said yesterday.
Over the next few weeks, Google's program will begin including a globe icon, linking users to a series of two- to four-minute videos from Discovery's archives.
Initially, the locations will be limited to 10 U.S. national parks including Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and Dinosaur, but international sites will be added soon.
Because clicking on the globe icon will take users to a Discovery-hosted site, Discovery will be able to sell advertising for those pages and keep all the revenue.
Discovery has been looking for ways to expand beyond cable programming, including development of a new Internet-based subscription learning service.
"We view this as a big, big revenue opportunity. We've already had interest and overtures from major advertisers," Donald A. Baer, Discovery's senior executive vice president for strategy and development, said yesterday during a conference call.
Google makes money with Google Earth by charging customers who download premium and professional versions of the application and by selling advertising that appears with map search results.
The main benefit Google gets from its partnership with Discovery is help promoting wider adoption of its Google Earth application. Microsoft and Yahoo are promoting their own mapping systems.
"At some point, you want to prevent the other technology from being adopted," said David Card, an analyst for Jupiter Research.
The arrangement with Discovery is not exclusive. Google also offers still images of some locations supplied by the National Geographic Society and links to related articles from National Geographic Magazine.
"When we see interesting and exciting content, we will promote that on our landing page," said John Hanke, director of Google Earth.
Separately, Discovery announced that it will launch its first broadband channels, Discovery Channel Beyond and Travel Channel Beyond, on April 15. The broadband channels offer outtakes and bloopers from selected Discovery shows and other related content online. The channels are to be supported entirely by advertising and are free. The company is talking with U.S. mobile phone service providers about supplying a broadcast feed for wireless devices. It already does so in other parts of the world.
Broadband channels for TLC, Animal Planet and Discovery Health Channel will follow.