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Yahoo dominates the connected TV space

There were many visions of TVs future at this year’s CES, but what came from Yahoo’s Connected TV platform may be the most appealing to broadcasters a

By PETER WHITE

Published: 20 January, 2011

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There were many visions of TVs future at this year’s CES, but what came from Yahoo’s Connected TV platform may be the most appealing to broadcasters and consumers alike.

Yahoo unveiled a new feature for its Connected TV platform called “Broadcast Interactivity” that brings an Internet-enhanced TV experience to consumers at the behest of broadcast networks and advertisers. The service works by showing the user a symbol at a broadcaster/advertiser specified point in the broadcast. If the user clicks a corresponding button on their remote, extra content is displayed.

At CES, Yahoo was using this to demonstrate polls based on the current TV show and interactivity to give more information about characters and products on screen, and even to show off a potential point of sale for its retail programming partners. The point of interaction is locked to a time of the content owner’s choosing and it is possible for the user to miss it. Consumers don’t have to interact with the special prompting, but they can define what content is relevant to them, golden information for Yahoo and its partners.

Yahoo is working with ABC, CBS, HSN and Showtime on content for a pilot program in the first half of 2011. Brand advertisers Ford, Mattel and Microsoft are planning to work with Yahoo to add interactivity to their TV ads.

Yahoo gave us a list of possible broadcast interactions for these partners and said everything on it can be done without any new infrastructure. CBS will show viewers of Hawaii Five-O information about actors, characters and settings via their remote control; ABCwill show viewers of primetime show actor information, photos and videos, during certain scenes, while watching the show. Video placement and when it takes over from the original TV show’s video will be determined by ABC.

Showtime will use the feature to give boxing fans detailed boxer information, vote for their favorite boxer and answer trivia questions; HSN (Home Shopping Network) will let viewers directly purchase items from the live TV show using their remote. Sales are controlled by the network partner, but Yahoo can store enough information so that if its own service is used, all the consumer has to provide is the credit card’s authorization number on the back to make a purchase.

Ford showed local car dealers, and allowed viewers to customize their dream cars; Mattel allowed viewers to dress a Barbie doll .Yahoo also showed off a voting process at CES, but the dream is to entice children and parents to make direct purchases, especially on Saturday mornings.

Yahoo said the partners will control how their additional content is shown and experienced. Yahoo has provided a basic framework which advertisers and broadcast partners can use, basically filling in the areas with the proper information, or they can make their own overlays and Yahoo will work to accommodate them. Yahoo will allow control for the associated interaction beyond the TV button, such as allowing users to use existing HSN accounts to purchase or if services want information provided directly by the consumer at a point of engagement.

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