The news that Amazon.com and Apple both plan to offer paid movie-downloading services made me wonder about the fate of the free advertising model that Google has been testing. Google Video, launched from labs right here in Kirkland, offers some shows free in exchange for watching ads. They included videos that would normally cost between $1 and $15.
A search of Google's free TV shows today turned up an unexciting mix of talk shows, interviews with writers on public TV, and a program for parents to share their funniest stories on camera. A search of shows for sale, on the other hand, listed programs you might actually watch on TV: "Survivor," "CSI," "Star Trek," etc.
Of course, a large part of Google Video's appeal is the YouTube phenomenon: Anyone can post a video and share it with the world.
A reoccurring theme seems to run through Google's Top 100 most popular videos, made by amateurs and free of charge: "sex in kitchen," "Topless Car Wash" and "World's Clumsiest Pole Dancer."
It's still too early to say how the paid vs. free video model will shake out. But seeing how Google and Microsoft respond to this challenge will make for some interesting content itself.