Internet-connected TV may be bigger than 3-D

A key TV technology trend at CES — one that may be far larger than 3-D — is Internet-connected television. Popular Web sites — including Netflix, Facebook, eBay and Flickr — are being merged into a new generation of television sets. At the same time, an increasing number of viewers are turning off pay-television subscriptions in favor of video delivered over the Internet.

Last year, a few companies debuted TVs that used Yahoo’s widgets to deliver an array of popular Web sites. This year, nearly every TV manufacturer will have an Internet connection in its lineup, along with multiple deals with the likes of Netflix, Facebook and Google.

Such connectivity is key to enabling entertainment to flow from the home computer or laptop to the main TV set in the living room.

Entertainment companies such as Walt Disney are pushing technologies that will enable consumers to pay once for a movie or television show but watch it on multiple devices. A similar initiative, called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, seeks to create a single “digital locker” that holds the movies and videos purchased by a viewer and enables it to be played on multiple devices.

Vudu, the streaming movie company, has signed deals with Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba and is deepening its current deals with LG Electronics, Mitsubishi and Vizio to push its film service into the products of the TV set makers. That essentially puts Vudu into every major TV set except those by Sony and Panasonic. Vudu said it’s still talking to both of those companies as well.

TV manufacturers are rushing to embrace Internet movie services like Netflix’s Watch Instantly, Amazon’s Video on Demand service, Blockbuster OnDemand and Roxio’s Cinema Now. They give consumers more reasons to buy Internet-enabled televisions, and in many cases manufacturers get a cut of the revenues generated when consumers make purchases from their televisions.

Vudu is following companies such as Yahoo, Roku and Boxee in introducing Vudu Apps, a platform for delivering other Internet services to the television. Vudu’s widgets include music site Pandora, photo sharing site Picassa, a “New York Times” news service and about 90 other applications.