Yahoo is trying to build lead over Google and Apple in the budding smart television market by letting television broadcasters connect in real time with viewers.
At CES 2011, the company announced that it is introducing broadcast interactivity on its Yahoo Connected TV platform
, which brings Internet-enhanced television to consumers across popular TV brands.
The new feature is slated to launch with select U.S. broadcast and cable TV leaders and top brand advertisers. Yahoo is collaborating with ABC, CBS, HSN, and Showtime on content for a pilot program in the first half of 2011, and showcases examples of the broadcast interactivity feature at CES. Advertisers including Ford, Mattel and Microsoft are also planning to work with Yahoo to deliver interactivity with their TV advertising, Yahoo said.
"Our collaboration with leaders in television and brand advertising, combined with the innovative technologies we're pioneering, signals the beginning of a new era of highly personalized, Internet-enhanced television," said Ron Jacoby, vice president, Yahoo! Connected TV. "Imagine an immersive, real-time TV experience that brings people even closer to the programs and brands they love by enabling them to play along while they watch their favorite shows."
With broadcast interactivity, TV programmers will be able to create TV apps that let viewers vote for a reality-TV participant, get more information about characters, or make e-commerce purchases while watching a show. For brand advertisers, broadcast interactivity will let them connect in real time with TV viewers during commercials or other branded entertainment experiences. Examples of broadcast interactivity could include:
- CBS ? Viewers of "Hawaii Five-O" could view fun facts about the show and learn more about the actors, characters, and setting by using their remote controls.
- ABC ? Viewers of an ABC primetime show could access actor information and view photos and videos during certain scenes right from their TVs while watching the show.
- Showtime ? "Showtime Boxing" fans could access detailed fight information including photos and videos, test their knowledge of the boxers, and vote for the boxer they think will win the match.
- HSN ? Viewers watching HSN could directly purchase an item highlighted on the live show and take advantage of specials of the day, using their remote controls.
- Ford ? TV viewers watching a Lincoln commercial could find local dealers, customize their dream cars, view Lincoln luxury lifestyle videos, and more.
- Mattel ? Viewers of a Barbie TV commercial could take Barbie polls, play Barbie dress-up games, view Barbie documentary videos, and more.
Yahoo is working with Connected TV distribution partners including Broadcom Corporation, D-Link, Haier, MediaTek, Sony and Toshiba to enable the broadcast interactivity pilot on their devices in 2011.
Today the Yahoo Connected TV experience centers around a collection of TV apps. TV apps run the gamut from social networking to music, games, news, weather, finance, and shopping, and provide access to more than 50,000 movies and TV shows on demand.
New media TV apps for the Yahoo! Connected TV platform include those from Mediafly, Virtual Nerd, Screen Dreams, and more.
A variety of product demonstrations are taking place at the Yahoo booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition to showcasing the broadcast interactivity pilot, Yahoo demonstrates the Yahoo Connected TV Store, scheduled to launch in March 2011, and interactive scenarios showcasing products that highlight Yahoo's platforms and technologies, including:
- Three-Screen Connected Device Interactivity ? Experience interactivity amongst tablets, mobile phones, and TVs. Demos will showcase an Android phone used as a smart remote control for Yahoo Connected TV, a tablet device used in sync with an on-air program, and the ability to "flick" videos from the tablet or phone to a big-screen TV for shared viewing.
- Yahoo Mobile, Seamless Connectivity ? Play with the newest apps and mobile experiences that are bringing Yahoo's leading digital media, content, and communications services to mobile phones and tablet devices on a global scale. A new Flickr app for Windows Phones and Slate tablets are showcased.
Yahoo's "rival" Google last month asked several television makers to delay launching sets featuring Google TV, which merges online content with traditional TV programming.
US television networks NBC, CBS and ABC and the Hulu entertainment website have blocked people from watching full-length shows on their websites using Google TV.
Google unveiled Google TV in May at a software developers conference in San Francisco.
Sony unveiled a line of Internet-enabled television sets in October featuring Google TV, and Logitech began selling set-top boxes that route Web content to existing TV sets.
Meanwhile, Apple has sold more than a million of its second-generation Apple TV boxes in the three months after the devices hit the market late last year.