Google will on Friday announce plans for an Internet video service that will carry a wide range of entertainment, sports and news programming, according to a person familiar with its plans.
The internet search company will also participate in 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 internet users will be expected to pay for content, as well as the first time the company has forged deeper commercial relationships with content owners.
Initial content on the service will include television shows from CBS, music videos from Sony BMG and news from ITN, as well as material from the National Basketball Association.
The search company hopes to position the new video service as the internet's first "open digital content marketplace", a place where owners of video content can make as much of their material available as they want, according to the person familiar with its plans.
However, access to the store will be through an iTunes-like interface that will require users to download a new Google "player" onto their PCs.
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 programming from its FX cable network available through video-on-demand as much as two days before those shows air on television.
The Fox announcements follow those of other major 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 consumers before its traditional broadcast — something that could make it susceptible to piracy.
The new Google consumer software "bundle" will bring a new level of cooperation between a number of Microsoft rivals before it releases the next version of its Windows operating system.