In the struggle to differentiate itself, Yahoo tried to re-invent itself as a media company starting as a content search engine for years. This become much harder when Google bought YouTube, but Yahoo suddenly has an early foothold in an unexpected area…on our TV’s.
2010 is the year that TV’s will finally start to catch up to our PC’s with online connectivity, on-demand programming, social interactivity and e-commerce widgets. Many players are already in the space such as Roku, Vudu, Apple and the like, but Yahoo was early. Establishing a widget platform that seems to be included in most new set tops.
TV Manufacturers are also launching application platforms of their own as a way to add third party content and basic interactivity to broadband-connected sets. Samsung, Vizio, Panasonic and Toshiba are just a few of the brands setting up their own solutions for select flat screen televisions, despite the fact that some had already signed integration deals with Yahoo’s Connected TV division, creator of the Yahoo Widgets platform. Digital video company DivX has introduced its own TV app platform, leveraging relationships with content producers such as Break, blip.tv, Revision3 and Rhapsody to offer a plug-and-play solution to CE companies. LG Electronics was named as the first manufacturer to license DivX TV for upcoming Blu-ray Disc players and home theater systems. As you can see, the range of standards boggles the mind, with Yahoo being the only common thread baked within many of these hardware platforms.*
Yahoo also struck a deal with Brightcove to expand its content offerings for the Yahoo Widget platform. Media publishers using Brightcove’s online video platform can now distribute their videos through Yahoo’s Widget Engine. The Yahoo Widget Development Kit has also finally been fully released to the public, enabling individual developers and larger content providers alike to develop apps for the TV Widget platform. Yahoo has partnerships in place with LG, Sony, Samsung and Vizio, the 4 top U.S. TV brands, to bring TV Widgets to their internet-connected televisions.*
All of this leads me to believe that Yahoo may be poised for a re-invention in the exact space that they have had a hard time committing to online.
If they play their cards right, while Google may be the platform of choice on our PC’s Yahoo could be the platform of choice on our TV’s.
*Many thanks to Wayne Karrfalt from Cynopsis: Digital for much of the industry intel that helped provide affirmation to my position.