Tube or Not Tube? Just Ask Google
By David Kirkpatrick and Brent Schlender

(FORTUNE Magazine) – When FORTUNE caught up with YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen a few days after Google purchased their company for $1.65 billion, they had few insights to share--even about what it feels like to have hit the jackpot. "I haven't really thought about it," said Hurley. So for those who have to think about the deal, consider it a hedge strategy about the future of TV.

If network TV dies: Google knows that for video (as opposed to music) download services are just an interim solution until fatter digital pipes are available. It also knows that if it can demonstrate a method to sprinkle programming with personalized and measurable advertising tailored to each viewer, it can hasten the transition of cable providers to an Internet-based, on-demand model. When that happens, each channel will, in effect, be an Internet address, but you won't know the difference.

If network TV lives: For more than a year, Google has been talking about its ambition to extend its auction-driven ad-sales model into old media--print, radio, and television. This summer Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company would soon deliver "targeted measurable television ads." So whether broadcast TV lives or dies, Google will be there to cash in.