Big-screen TVs are displayed by Panasonic at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Internet connectivity is becoming a more important feature of TVs, a new report says. Credit: Steve Marcus/Reuters
100 million tv's will be internet connected within four years.
Soon, the living room TV will become as hyper-connected as the people watching it.
A new report from researcher NPD In-Stat predicts that 100 million homes in North America and Western Europe will own television sets that blend traditional programs with Internet content by 2016. These new hybrid devices, capable of displaying interactive content related to TV shows, are a bid to hold the viewer's attention in a device-cluttered world.
"The TV people figured out nobody's just watching TV anymore," said Gerry Kaufhold, NPD In-Stat's digital entertainment research director. "They're watching TV with a tablet or a smartphone or a laptop in their hands. They've completely lost control."
Indeed, more than 60% of viewers check their email or surf the Web while watching TV, according to Nielsen's 2011 consumer usage report. Programmers realize they need to do something to draw the viewer's eyes back to the TV screen -- even as they develop apps for tablets and smartphones to deliver content related to the show that's airing.
"The level of engagement with the TV show goes down unless you've got something on the handheld device that ties them back to the TV show, somehow," Kaufhold said.
A tablet application developed for Simon Cowell's reality series "The X Factor" synchronizes the device with the singing competition and allows viewers to rate performances, vote and interact with other fans.
"Two things are starting to percolate in the television industry," Kaufhold said. "First is the awareness that it's not just about the big screen anymore. You've got to get something to these second screens. Second is how can we control as much of the screen real estate as possible."
Kaufhold pointed to a European connected TV standard (known as Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) as a bellwether of things to come in North America.
Broadcaster France Televisions will use the new hybrid standard during the French Open, which begins in May. Tennis fans can push a single button on their remote controls to bring up an interactive screen that will display real-time scores of other matches, bios of tournament players and news, photos and Twitter streams describing the action.
Kaufhold said he could see the same technology being employed for such high-interest competitions as the online NCAA mens' basketball championship.
In the U.S., only about 12 million U.S. households have their Web-capable TVs connected to the Internet, although NPD In-Stat estimates about 25 million U.S. TV households own a set with the built-in network capability.
The Skinny: I enjoyed most of Season 2 of AMC's "The Walking Dead," which seems to put me at odds with the folks who spend their lives detailing and analyzing every moment on the show. Some deep thought on shows is nice, but sometimes it seems like people have too much time on their hands. Anyway, Tuesday's headlines include a look at Evolution Media Capital, the CAA-backed investment bank, new cuts at OWN and the money Disney will lose on "John Carter."
Photo: Oprah Winfrey. Credit: George Burns/OWN.
Oprah Winfrey's "aha!" moment. OWN, the cable network launched by former talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and cable programming giant Discovery Communications, is cutting staff and restructuring its operations. The decision to shed 30 staffers comes just days after OWN canceled its high-profile talk show featuring Rosie O'Donnell, which turned out to be a huge flop. Discovery Communications, which has sunk more than $300 million into OWN, is also putting a few of its own executives in key operating roles to try to boost ratings and stop the financial bleeding. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Deadline Hollywood.
The Daily Dose: Starz has given its new drama "Magic City" a Season 2 order before the show has even premiered. The pay cable channel took a similar approach with its political drama "Boss." The move is meant to send a signal to critics and media watchers about how confident Starz is in the show. However, one has to wonder how in stone those renewals are written. If "Magic City" generates little interest will Starz really keep it going for two seasons? No, it will find a way to back out of the deal. It's a publicity ploy, nothing more.
They shoot, they score. Evolution Media Capital, an investment bank backed by Creative Artists Agency, has made a splash in the sports and media marketplace. Launched less than four years ago, EMC has already been involved in more than 20 deals with a combined value of $15 billion. Deals EMC had a hand in brokering include the sales of the Texas Rangers and entertainment company CKX as well as TV pacts for the Pac-12 and the Boston Celtics. A look inside EMC from the Los Angeles Times.
"John Carter" takes bath. Walt Disney Co. said its epic flop "John Carter" would likely lose in the neighborhood of $200 million. The movie, which will end up being one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history, cost some $350 million to make and market. So far, the film has made just under $200 million, worldwide, in its two weeks of release. Coverage of the Disney debacle from the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, and New York Times.
Plot twist. The legal battle between former "Desperate Housewives" co-star Nicollette Sheridan and ABC ended in a hung jury Monday. Sheridan, whose character was killed off the prime-time soap a few seasons ago, had sued ABC, claiming she was fired from the show in retaliation for making a complaint against "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry. Sheridan came up one vote shy of winning her civil suit. Now the two sides will either do it again or reach some sort of settlement. Analysis of the trial from the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Beast.
Closing the kid gap. For years, Viacom's Nickelodeon has been the No. 1 network when it comes to reaching kids. But now the Disney Channel is closing the gap and only 31,000 viewers separate the two networks in the key kids 2-11 category. Here's USA Today on the fight for first place. One piece of advice to Disney Channel: Don't launch a "John Carter" cartoon.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein looks at some recent TV and movie flops. Randall Roberts and Todd Martens on what made a splash at the SXSW festival.
-- Joe Flint
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