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Shalini Govil-Pai

Shalini Govil-Pai

Shalini Govil-Pai

Even close observers could be forgiven some brand confusion discerning the differences between Alphabet Inc.’s Google TV and the older, closely related Android TV. But make no mistake; the combination on a global scale represents Google’s most coherent effort yet to connect the streaming-video industry’s hardware, software and content sides in a way that consumers find compelling and useful. 

Making that initiative work on a global scale is Govil-Pai’s job.

The best way to understand Govil-Pai’s streaming empire: Android TV is an operating system for streaming devices. Google TV is a viewer-friendly interface that sits “atop” Android TV. Google TV ties together technologies including search, machine learning, mobile, smart home and smart assistants, while making it easier for viewers to unearth interesting programs across SVOD, AVOD, live TV and other sources. 

“Many of us are realizing that while there is a lot of great content, it’s really hard to find something to watch,” Govil-Pai said in an email interview. “That is where Google [TV] comes in, providing an interface which helps you find content in a seamless search and discovery experience.”

Google TV launched this summer alongside a $50 dongle and remote control called Chromecast with Google TV. Coming soon: Google TV in Android TV-powered connected TVs, third-party streaming devices and more. It’s a potentially potent combination.

With Android TV gaining momentum with both pay-TV operators and consumers, Alphabet hopes Google TV will take it over the top in the global connected-TV arms race with Amazon and Roku. 

That’s the challenge facing Govil-Pai, a Bollywood-born former child actress who made a savvy career pivot, picking up two computer science degrees from the Indian Institutes of Technology before becoming technical director on early Pixar animated films such as “Toy Story.”

Even as pandemic viewership has shot up across the streaming industry, Govil-Pai’s unit has “continued to stay focused on providing an experience that meets users’ needs … helping them find something to watch” with a “platform with features such as watchlist and screensaver mode that help entertain and delight our users at a time when it’s needed more than ever.”