If you own an Internet-connected TV that is compatible with Yahoo’s TV widgets (AKA, a Yahoo Connected TV), you may soon start seeing video produced for the Web on your TV. Brightcove announced today that media publishers using its online video platform can now distribute their videos through Yahoo’s Widget Engine, which powers the widgets on Yahoo-Connected TVs. These TVs are made by Sony, Samsung, Vizio, and LG, which show widgets along the bottom displaying data and content from the Web. These include your Facebook and Twitter streams, stock quotes, the weather, Amazon on-demand videos, and now Web videos powered by Brightcove.
A lot of print publications use Brightcove to power video on their Websites, and some of these already have Yahoo Connecetd TV widgets. These include MyRecipes, Cooking Light, Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset, AllYou and ThisOldHouse. There are a lot of Time Inc. titles in there. TheStreet.com, Wine Spectator, Slate, and The Hollywood Reporter now also have TV widgets through Brightcove.
Yahoo also announced a partnership with MIPS Technologies today, which makes processors for Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes. The idea that you need a special TV to watch video content from the Web seems strange. As long as it’s a flat-panel TV, why should it matter, right? But these integrations are more about bringing data to TVs from the Web in a friendly format. I’m glad Yahoo is pushing this along, but at some point hopefully open standards will develop so that any widget, data, or content from the Web can be viewed on any TV. Why should it go through a Yahoo widget? I get widgets from Verizon FIOS TV on all my TVs, even my old CRT. I don’t believe those are Yahoo Widgets.
The other issue is just getting people to use these widgets. I have yet to even set up my Twitter or Facebook widgets on my TV. I think I looked up the weather once. But if I really want to do all that Web stuff, I have my iPhone or my laptop. There is a reason WebTV failed. Widgets are not going to fare any better. However, if they can be used to put Web video on your TV, I could see that gaining traction. Except that you have to remember to click on the widget button, which is still an unnatural act, instead of just surfing through the regular channels. Once these additional Web channels can be incorporated into the digital guide through which people surf TV, then Web video can be treated just like anything else on TV. It shouldn’t matter where it’s coming from.