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How Widgets Will Build ITV

5/16/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Internet-enabled TV will change the way viewers experience their television, and operators should prepare for the coming opportunities. It is an inevitable shift that will alter the television experience as we know it.

For many, watching TV is a passive activity, not an interactive experience. The television as it currently exists is simply a conduit for delivering packaged information — but incorporating Internet functionality and interactivity into this package will dramatically change the viewer experience and content possibilities for broadband and pay TV operators.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 adult broadband subscribers in the U.S. commissioned by Intel and conducted by The Diffusion Group, 76% of consumers value having a Web-connected “widget toolbar” on their TV, and 75% of consumers who are likely to purchase a new HDTV in the next six months would pay as much as $75 extra if it featured a “widget toolbar” and their five favorite applications via TV Widgets. This is above the additional spend associated with the presence of Internet connectivity.

While using TV Widgets is becoming intuitive among consumers, the recent study shed light on exactly how viewers would want to enhance their TV-watching experiences. According to the study, more than half (54.8%) of consumers would like to link to TV program Web sites while watching a favorite show, so they can watch the program and interact with the Internet at the same time. For example, viewers might watch their favorite local news station while obtaining national headlines from a TV widget such as an AP news ticker, all which could be viewed on the same TV screen.

In addition, more than 85% (85.7%) of consumers surveyed indicated that they would find it valuable to be able to find and watch episodes of current-season TV shows they may have missed or would like to see again.

When it comes to enhancing movie night at home, 72.2% of consumers said they would find value in the ability to access movies via the Internet and watch them immediately on their TVs, while more than half (59%) of survey participants said access to a movie recommendation service to help find movies and watch them right away would also be valuable.

Entertainment isn’t the only motivation behind consumer interest in Internet-enabled TV Widget applications — news and informational programming could also benefit from a more interactive platform. In fact, more than 40% of survey respondents see value in being able to customize up-to-the-minute weather information for their location and other locations of interest.

Make no mistake about it — broadband Internet is coming to the TV and its arrival will spur a host of opportunities to deliver Internet-enabled television applications directly to the living rooms of eager consumers. By delivering a suite of applications consumers already love, pay TV operators have a unique opportunity to help shape the nature of Internet-enabled TV and strengthen consumers’ relationship with their TV.


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