Verizon Adding Widgets, Web Video To Fios TV
Starting today, subscribers will be able to choose from an expanded set of free Internet widgets, accessible through any Fios receiver or digital video recorder. And in a month or so, Fios viewers with the company's $19.99/month Home Media DVR will be able to watch Web videos from three sites.
To get a better sense of how these two new services will work, I spent an hour this afternoon watching demonstrations of them at the company's D.C. offices -- for now, one of the only places Fios TV service is available in the District -- and quizzing Verizon representatives about their finer points.
The widgets build on software Verizon introduced four years ago for its own use; now, Verizon will provide approved widgets from other developers in a new Widget Bazaar. Verizon says about 40 of these are in development, but the only new ones showed off today were Twitter and Facebook applications. The former doesn't let you sign into a Twitter account so you can't easily bring up replies to your updates, while the latter allows access to more of Facebook's standard features. Note that in each case, your input is limited to the standard remote control, with no provision for a wired or wireless keyboard.
Verizon is also starting small with its Web video support, which only plays (at best) standard-definition clips from three sites: Blip.tv, Dailymotion, and Veoh. Verizon Media-Relations Vice President Eric Rabe -- who blogged about the news this morning -- said the company is talking to YouTube but doesn't think it needs to support the popular Hulu TV-video site. "We feel we've got that covered" with the Fios TV video-on-demand option, Rabe said.
Verizon has plenty of company in trying to bring the Web to TV screens. The most ambitious attempt out there may be Yahoo's TV Widgets, a family of add-on programs available on HDTVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio that present content from such sites as Netflix, Twitter and Yahoo's own Flickr on the big screen. But for all the publicity Yahoo's venture got at its introduction during January's Consumer Electronics Show, I haven't heard from too many viewers using these programs on their own HDTVs.
Correction: I haven't heard from any TV Widget watchers so far. Do you exist? If so, what do you think of Yahoo's software? And what about the Fios-viewing contingent: Have you tried its new Facebook and Twitter widgets? What other widgets would you like to see on your screen? The comments await...
July 15, 2009; 5:50 PM ET
Categories: TV , The Web
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