By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website in Las Vegas
Google is to start selling video online, offering a way for people to search for and buy TV shows and more through its site.
Google is now offering premium video content for the first time
The web giant's co-founder Larry Page announced the service at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
US network CBS is making shows like CSI and Star Trek available to buy online.
Google is the latest company to explore the idea of selling video on the net following Apple, who led the way with its iTunes online store.
Pay to view
Competition in the burgeoning online video arena is shaping up to be fierce.
Others like Microsoft and Yahoo are also getting involved in offering video via the web.
Much of the talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is about gadgets of all shapes and sizes that can connect via the net to download video.
Google has been offering video for free over the internet for about a year. But this is the first time it will enable its users to pay for premium content.
"It lets anyone sell video," said Mr Page announcing the Google Video Store. "The content producers can decide what to charge."
Some 3,000 items will be available to rent or download and watch in Google's new desktop video player.
As part of the service, the search giant has done a deal with CBS to offer some of its big blockbuster hits such as CSI and Survivor for $1.99 in the US.
CBS is also making available its archive of programs, among them Star Trek and I Love Lucy.
Details about the service outside the US are sketchy. Mr Page said he expected different content to be available in different parts of the world, depending on rights issues.
"The rights for video are really complicated so generally you are going to see video that is licensed for particular countries," he said.
The video will be available to download for Windows or the Mac, as well as for the Sony PlayStation Portable and Apple iPod.
Beyond the browser
The move towards paid-for video downloads was pioneered by Apple last year when it introduced an iPod video player and shows from ABC, NBC and others on its iTunes store.
Web giants like Yahoo and Google are trying to break out of the PC browser to offer their software and services on a plethora of devices.
At CES, Yahoo announced free software that would let viewers use the TV screen to search and watch the more than one million video clips in its video search service.
Microsoft is also looking to expand to the TV. At the Vegas techfest, it revealed a deal with Sky to offer content from the British satellite broadcaster and make it available through Windows software.
During his presentation, Mr Page also introduced a free service called Google Pack. This allows users to install software from a range of companies from a single download.
Included are Google's desktop, instant messaging and Google Earth mapping programs as well as the Firefox browser, Adobe's PDF reader and Norton anti-virus software from Symantec.
Mr Page used his platform at CES to make a plea for gadget makers to agree to common standards so that devices would work with each other seamlessly and use a standard power supply.