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Google to stop selling TV downloads on video site

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Google, after buying video-sharing site YouTube nine months ago for $1.65 billion, plans to stop selling television shows on its homegrown video site.

The company will stop offering download-to-own and download-to-rent programs Aug. 15, according to an e-mail sent to customers Friday. The Mountain View company, owner of the most-used Internet search engine, started selling shows such as “Survivor” in January 2006.

Google’s decision to close the retail part of its video site indicates the company had less success selling content than attracting advertising spending, which accounts for 99 percent of revenue. The purchase of San Bruno-based YouTube, whose videos are all free, catapulted Google from seventh to first among video-sharing providers on the Web.

“The current change is a reaffirmation of our commitment to building our ad-supported monetization models for video,” Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said in an e-mail.

For purchases made before July 18, customers will be given bonuses on Google Checkout, allowing them to buy products on other Web sites, Stricker said. A cash refund will be given for purchases made after that date. The amount of the refunds is “not material” to earnings, he said.

Visitors to Google’s sites watched 1.8 billion clips in May, accounting for 22 percent of videos viewed in the nation, according to Reston, Va.-based researcher ComScore. News Corp.’s Fox Interactive unit, which includes social-networking site MySpace, was second with 8.1 percent, followed by Sunnyvale-based Yahoo at 4.6 percent.

Yahoo, whose Internet search engine trails Google, plans to revamp its video site by the end of the year to include more content from media companies and Internet users.

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