Vizio, Hulu Plus and Yahoo - New Connected TV's to Kill Off Cable, Satellite, and Tivo in the USA?

written by: Richard Kastelein

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Crunchgear recently carried an article about Vizio's new offerings in the Connected TV space last with claims that it could be a TIVO killer by allowing viewers to stream content from Revision3, Showtime and Pandora for free, while also able to subscribe to Vudu, Netflix, Blockbuster OnDemand, Amazon Video On Demand and Rhapsody. And that the sets will be built to work with Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr via the Yahoo Widgets Engine.

It should also be noted that Vizio did a deal this week with Hulu to offer Hulu Plus- the first ad-supported subscription service to offer full current season runs of hit TV programs from ABC, FOX and NBC, in HD, for only UDS $9.99 a month. Which one of the crew over at is predicting it might be the end of Cable, Satellite and PayTV as we know it today.

Cable and satellite are classic middlemen. When the internet meets the middleman, the middleman tends to disappear — or at least be replaced by a thinner middleman. We’ve seen it with record stores, classified ad-dependent newspapers, video-rental stores, bookstores and any other business that delivers something that the internet can deliver more efficiently.

And recently, a Bloomberg report appeared stating that the company is talking with CBS, Viacom and Time Warner to add their shows. That would be on top of their line-up which already includes Fox, NBC Universal, ABC, ABC Family, Biography, Lionsgate, Endemol, MGM, MTV Networks, National Geographic, Digital Rights Group, Paramount, PBS, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. and more.

Vizio Internet Apps (VIA™) - Connecting to the Future of Television is the pitch and they claim in an ambitious press release that it offers viewers the most convenient access to the widest range of top Internet content and services – all while simultaneously watching traditional TV broadcast or recorded video, for truly the ultimate experience in couch surfing.

What places them apart in the Connected TV realm is one simple thing and it's not the variety of apps - it's the fact it includes a customized Bluetooth universal remote control with sliding QWERTY keyboard for easy thumb-typing, and a remote that can be customised to control other attached CE source devices.

Yes the keyboard.

I recently wrote about my typing hell with Samsung Connected TV in The Netherlands:

As someone who can type about 100 wpm on a keyboard - and rock on an iPhone I am finding the 2=ABC, 3=DEF (Text on 9 keys) or T9 'old school' phone messaging cumbersome as hell. Give me a keyboard to move around on at least! I'd be happier one-thumbing on familar terrain - even a Querty would make me happy.

Vizio also claims their user interface (UI) enables a unique experience that hides all of the complexity from viewers. And not only do thei integrate the Yahoo! Widget Engine, they also include support for the Adobe Flash Platform for the Digital Home, an optimized implementation of Flash technology.

Previously announced content and service providers who are building Vizio Internet Apps include a huge array of players including: Accedo Broadband, Amazon Video On Demand, Blockbuster On Demand, Flickr, Netflix, Pandora and Rhapsody. With today’s announced agreements with eBay, Facebook, RadioTime, Revision3, Rallypoint Sports, Showtime, Twitter and Vudu.

Yahoo Connected TV's Lucas Mast points out a few more things in the comments:

"...Just wanted to address/correct a few items. The Yahoo! Widget Engine does indeed power the new Vizio TVs, as well as units currently in the market from Samsung, LG Electronics, and Sony. You can customize your experience in the Widget Gallery, so if any widget falls out of favor (ie the Twitter reference from Nathan), you can simply delete it, much like you would on the iPhone.

There will be new widgets coming soon from a wide variety of content providers and developers–video on demand (ex Netflix), transactional (ex eBay), network programming (ex CBS), cable outlets (ex Showtime), video (YouTube), social networking (Twitter), and other content from Yahoo! (Flickr, News, Sports, Weather) and many others. Our goal is to have100 by the end of the year. With Vizio’s announcement, by fall the top 3 international TV manufacturers and the top 4 in the US will all have TVs using the Yahoo! Widget Engine."

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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