Thursday, August 06, 2009

Are Web-connected TVs going to cause problems for broadcasters?
The first TVs fitted with Yahoo-Intel’s widget engine have begun to ship in Europe amid speculation about their potentially disruptive impact on the TV landscape.

On the one hand web-enabled TVs retailing over £1000 (US $1600) are unlikely to attract a mass market, outside early adopters, given that over the past 18 months the industry has made a pretty successful attempt to encourage people to upgrade to flat-screen HD screens as digital switchover gathers pace.

Yet the no-fuss plug and play internet access that widgets provide, albeit in limited ‘walled garden’ form, will give broadcasters and platform owners pause for thought.

“It’s not a slam-dunk competitor but a development that chips away at the edges of the pay-TV business,” says Nigel Walley, managing director of media strategists Decipher. “Pulling up a widget on the Samsung TV pushes the broadcaster’s EPG to one side, potentially delivering on-demand content outside its control. Widgets will raise the appetite among consumers to use the main screen for more activity, putting pressure on STB manufacturers to raise their game.”

Samsung TV was first to launch in April with a six-month exclusive deal to market Yahoo TV Widgets software in its Internet@TV branded displays. Yahoo's UK channels include widgets for news and sports reports, Flickr and, as of mid-July, YouTube.

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