Blog Post

Do You Want Widgets on Your TV?

Intel and Yahoo announced today they are teaming up to try and make television interactive. Yahoo will manage a widget library for Intel’s OEM partners that will include social, informational and personalized add-ons for TV. Columnist Michael Wolf has the story on NewTeeVee.

The announcement is a bit like deja vu, since Yahoo and Intel for the last two years have offered a neat little integration for keeping track of your fantasy football league and watching the game on your big screen. But it’s been a lot longer than two years that people have been trying and failing to make TV interactive. There are some companies, like ActiveVideo Networks, that have been trucking along trying to make it happen for 10 years now.

Even online, content and interaction often seem like oil and water. At one time we thought Internet TV service Joost would be able to stand out because it opened up its API to widget developers. No such luck — turns out having the best content and making it easy to get to are way more important. I like where live-chat efforts from companies like Lycos and Paltalk are going, but they’re not there yet (see NewTeeVee coverage). On a more basic level, even YouTube is adding Pop-Up Video-like annotation features.

It’s possible we’ve evolved past the need for interaction in one place; we all have our laptops and phones out when we watch TV anyways. But I think there’s still some opportunity to do this right. Yahoo and Intel may have pretty good timing with this announcement given that only now are people starting to use their PCs and TVs for consuming content more interchangeably. An iPhone App Store-like product for TVs? Now that wouldn’t be so bad. Extending Google’s Android open platform to set-top boxes? That seems like it will actually happen too. What do you think?

11 Responses to “Do You Want Widgets on Your TV?”

  1. Just a note on the Lycos Cinema “Watch & Chat” feature that Liz mentions. While the catalogue of movie and TV series on Lycos Cinema is growing and building an audience, the platform has already seen some breakout hits. Most notable are ABC Family’s series Greek, Kyle XY and most recently The Secret Life of the American Teenager, all of which have seen impressive numbers of simultaneous users watching and chatting. The demographic for these shows is clearly teenagers. So while online video/chat platforms will continue to evolve, the Lycos Cinema chat system appears to be working really well for this teenage audience so far.

  2. Call me cranky, but the last thing I want to do after I plop on the couch is “interact” with my TV. What I’d really like to see Comcast do is spend some money on improving its pathetic search screens, which make Microsoft Bob look brilliant by comparison.

    Fix the potholes before you try to build the new superhighway, says the Comcast customer who just got an AT&T U-verse advert in the mailbox today.

  3. Only if it’s done right — not in-your-face and you must be able to turn it off when you want. I usually turn my TV on when I want some brainless entertainment and a break from all of the “interaction” I get in the rest of my life.

  4. Yes, I do want widgets on my TV. Just imagine flipping to one channel and seeing the weather, your stocks, scores of all of your favorite sports teams, and any other information that you want at a glance.
    Yes, bring it on baby!

  5. Take a look at the AT&T IPTV service. We just switched from Comcast to give it a try.., so far really nice.

    It has already brought this concept to the living room. You get sport scores, stock ticker, Flickr integration…, all on the tv via an interactive bar as they call it.

    They have an nice little web interface to set your teams, stocks, flickr account, etc