Verizon FiOS TV continues to advance innovation leadership in interactive TV with the launch of two new and highly anticipated social TV services - the Widget Bazaar applications store and Internet Video on TV.
Verizon has worked with social media innovators Facebook Connect, Twitter, ESPN, Veoh, blip.tv, and Dailymotion to create a truly converged Internet-to-television experience that lets FiOS TV subscribers connect with others while watching TV, plus search and view a variety of online, personal PC-based videos on their television screens.
Verizon also plans an open development platform to permit developers to write interactive FiOS TV applications that will be available through the Widget Bazaar.
The new services combine television's larger-than-life entertainment experiences with the Internet's social networking capabilities to create entirely new ways for customers to connect and engage via the biggest screens in their home - their TVs.
(For fact sheets, screen shots and video demos of Verizon's new social TV services, visit http://verizon.mediaseed.tv/Story.aspx?story=36826.)
"With FiOS, passive TV becomes social TV, part of the sweeping cultural shift that's changing how people connect with one another to share ideas, information and entertainment," said Shawn Strickland, vice president, marketing for Verizon Telecom. "We're working with some of the most popular companies on the Web to create the foundation for a high-quality, engaging Internet-to-TV experience that will only expand and grow richer."
According to a recent report by The Nielsen Company ("The Global Online Media Landscape, April 2009"), there are 87 percent more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883 percent more time devoted to social media sites. In February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time. The same study reported that the number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339 percent since 2003, and time spent on video sites over that period increased by almost 2,000 percent.
"People of all ages and backgrounds are living their lives online today," Strickland said. "They increasingly want to expand their online lives beyond their computer to other networked devices in the home. This especially holds true for their TVs, which remain the favorite entertainment source at home."
Analysts briefed on the announcement were enthusiastic. Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst for the industry research firm Parks Associates, said: "Once again, Verizon is at the innovation forefront with this first-of-its-kind integration of interactive social multimedia into the FiOS TV platform. And, because the major cable TV companies have yet to say when they'll be able to deliver these capabilities, FiOS TV will be the only provider to offer these exciting new features for the foreseeable future."
FiOS TV Widget Bazaar
The new Widget Bazaar applications marketplace, located within FiOS TV's Interactive Media Guide, is launching with free Facebook, Twitter and ESPN Fantasy Football Widgets.
Through the Twitter Widget, FiOS TV subscribers can follow Tweets related specifically to the program, movie or sporting event they are watching, bringing a new level of community and interactivity to watching TV. They also can select from a list of top topics to view Tweets associated with today's hottest topics and trends, search for specific Tweets, and create and save a favorite-topics list.
FiOS TV subscribers with Facebook accounts can log in to Facebook through the FiOS TV Widget to update their Facebook status with messages about what they're watching, view their own photos, and view their friends' photos and status updates.
The ESPN Fantasy Football Widget provides instant on-screen access to personalized ESPN Fantasy Football points and football statistics, including rosters, box scores, scoring leaders and player information. All the information is available, at no additional charge, for FiOS TV customers who are registered ESPN Fantasy Football players.
Open Development Platform for FiOS TV
These applications are only the beginning for the FiOS TV Widget Bazaar. In the coming months, Verizon will add to the FiOS TV Widget Bazaar dozens of additional free and transactional applications developed by the company and others.
Verizon soon will publish its Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable open development. The open development platform will enable developers to publish applications to FiOS TV's growing base of more than 7 million interactive set-top devices in FiOS TV homes. The company expects open development to unleash a plethora of innovative, television centered applications. The SDK will use Lua, a robust and efficient programming language.
Internet Video and My Videos: New Features for Home Media Manager
Later this month, customers who subscribe to the Home Media DVR service will have access a new Internet Video feature that will allow them to search and view on FiOS TV user generated online videos from video-sharing sites blip.tv, Dailymotion and Veoh. In addition, a new My Videos feature will let these subscribers view via FiOS TV personal videos stored on their PCs. Both new features will be available free of charge to FiOS Home Media DVR customers and require no additional equipment.
The new Internet Video feature will allow customers to search content on the blip.tv, Dailymotion andVeoh sites individually, or on all sites at once, using either key words or by selecting "most watched," "top rated" and "recent searches" categories; view thumbnail screen grabs of videos that appear in search results, and bookmark favorite videos - among other features.
Verizon is the only company in the U.S. to bring 100 percent fiber optics straight to the home, giving customers the ultimate home-upgrade by delivering America's top-rated broadband with download connections speeds of up to 50 megabits per second, more HD, amazing picture-and-sound quality, and interactive capabilities that cable can't match.
FiOS TV offers a broad collection of programming, with more than 500 all-digital channels, more than 115 HD channels and more than 15,000 monthly VOD titles. FiOS provides next-generation interactive services including an advanced interactive media guide, news and entertainment Widgets, remote DVR management, multi-room DVR, casual games, and many others.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.