CES: Disney-ABC To Step Up Interactive Television Efforts

Network may be creating widgets for 'Good Morning America' and 'Lost'
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ABC and its cable channels are planning to step up interactive television features, according to Disney-ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney.

Sweeney, delivering remarks at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, says that new technology from Intel and Yahoo! that will bring Web-style widgets to television sets will be incorporated into programming on their networks.

“There are, to be sure, many unanswered questions about how this will work, what kind of legal issues are involved, and what it could ultimately mean to my business,” Sweeney said. “But, what is intriguing is the potential for us to create widgets specifically geared to our shows and the people who watch them -- the potential for us to make TV viewing more functional and more fun for our viewers.”

The Intel chip is being built into set-top boxes and televisions, and allows for real-time overlays, interactive and social networking features relating to programming on the air.

As an example, Sweeney discussed creating widgets for long-running news program Good Morning America and drama Lost. For GMA, the widget would give viewers the chance to vote in real-time polls or express opinions about the broadcast. For cooking segments on the show, step-by-step instructions could be overlayed onscreen, and emailed to friends.

In the case of Lost, Sweeney says that the network is looking to create a widget for the series finale next year that would provide fans with insight into the show, and connect them to other fans around the world.

“Using the Intel Widget for the series finale could be a great way to give our fans an extraordinary viewing experience for the end of a truly iconic show,” she said.

The technology also creates a potential new revenue source, allowing for advertisers to take advantage of interactive features in addition to linear commercials.

“The chip may create the opportunity for content providers and consumer electronics companies to work together to help consumers connect more deeply to the content they watch,” Sweeney said. “It may also open the door for us to work with our advertisers in new ways to create true, real time interactivity.”