For 15 years, Web TV has struggled to get off the ground. A new report from Ernst & Young indicates that the medium may finally be getting somewhere, thank to widgets—those mini applications that are already popular on mobile devices and computers.
Of the groups surveyed, 76% of consumers believe having a widget toolbar on their primary TV would be valuable; 61% say they would like their TVs to connect to the Internet; and 30% consider the idea of news and information on their TVs appealing, according to E&Y’s Global Media & Entertainment Center study.
Verizon has already rolled out several such widgets on its FiOS platform, most recently a personalized weather app from WeatherBug.
“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 John Nendick, Global Sector Leader, Ernst & Young’s Global Media & Entertainment Center. “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.”
But just like the introduction of the DVR, widgets bring with a new set of problems. The more involved TV viewers are with playing with these mini apps, the less time they are watching TV and thus commercials. E&Y says managing challenges—such as a widget luring viewers to another competitor’s network—need to be managed so the benefits are not eclipsed. It also calls for 1st-run content to appear on widgets, otherwise, the apps may be reduced to not much more than a vehicle for marketing trailers.
The report concludes that in the short-term TV widgets will likely allow content companies to reinforce their brands and promote their programming. Long-term, E&Y predicts consumer adoption will ramp-up, with advertising and pay-for-play proving significant.

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