It all really comes down to who you believe. For years, the content providers (such as Comcast) have reiterated that ala carte options, where you can pick and choose channels, are actually less cost-effective for consumers than the existing model. A vast chunk of the cable service companies would be run out of business if they didn’t receive a piece of the overall pie. (Networks like one of my favorites, ID Discovery, would have died at birth rather than having gained an increasingly significant audience over the years.) They also argue that the price of some of the most popular stations, such as ESPN, would skyrocket so much that you’d find that you quickly paid as much or more.
Consumer groups, on the other side of the fence, have long argued that choices would be cheaper and better for consumers. If you aren’t a fan of ESPN, you might be able to pick up AMC, TNT, and the networks for a lot less.
The problem with Google is that they have already spooked the big content providers with Google TV. Hulu, CBS, NBC, etc., have actively blocked their service from GTVs. I highly doubt that HBO GO will appear there, either. The providers have an entrenched interest in controlling all access to their products, and the existing providers like Comcast, Warner, etc., are all more than happy to play along.
In short, I have strong doubts as to whether Google will be able to get their hands on anything truly useful. What I’m expecting to see is more of the same, with a few lesser channels (NATGEO, Discovery, etc.) being added. (These channels are already putting content on Netflix, so the value to GTV is dubious.)