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Widgetry Seen as Key to Web TV

LOS ANGELES: Widgets are the new plastics, as far as Web-enabled TV goes. That’s the verdict from Ernst & Young’s latest research on the topic.

“Widgets have very quickly become a part of consumers’ daily lives, and you would be hard pressed to find a computer or mobile device without them,” said E&Y executive John Nendick. “When you combine consumers' increasing reliance on widgets with the rapid incorporation of Web-enabled technology in almost all new hardware, the proliferation and adoption of widgets on television becomes self-evident.”

The E&Y folks found that 76 percent of the consumers surveyed said a widget toolbar on the main TV would be “valuable.” Sixty-one percent said they’d like their TV to be connected to the Internet; 30 percent said news and info widgets on TV would be “appealing.”

There are possible pitfalls. depending on the widget function. One that allows picture-in-picture viewing, for example, might reduce channel surfing and impact ratings accordingly. Widgets for competing advertisers could appear simultaneously if they’re not meticulously programmed. Restricted content could show up in a widget, instigating all sorts of regulatory hoo-hah.

The upshot of E&Y’s TV widget report is that integrating the little functionaries into the medium will take some planning, but it may very well portend the successful integration of the Internet into television.

For TV widgets to work, E&Y say “ease-of-use and free, advertising-based services are the top two factors for success, followed by an offering of non advertiser-subsidized premium content. What will not work... is asking consumers to use the TV as a computer, limiting content choices and requiring an additional fee on top of what the consumer is already paying for cable/satellite programming and Internet connectivity.”

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