Google TV

The daddy of the search dollar has ruffled a few network feathers since its October launch, with big players such as CBS and Hulu blocking content, wary of Google’s dominance in online advertising. However, the potential is clear for a product which combines a Chrome browser-powered web experience with search and sites optimised for viewing from the couch, plus the world’s most popular online video site, YouTube, and fastest growing app marketplace, Android. Google TV product lead Rishi Chandra has been on a charm offensive, promising ‘we’re not trying to replace cable’ and promoting a future of apps such as a karaoke experience (a sure fire way to win over the Contagious team). Indexing content has long been Google’s forte, yet it remains to be seen whether this fiercely competitive environment can be reshaped in its own image.

Connected TV

Imagine this – you’re on the couch at midnight catching up with True Blood through an HBO app, simultaneously checking baseball scores through an onscreen MLB widget. You dive into two-screen mode to tweet a comment on the show’s cliffhanger ending, then download the series for a friend via Amazon. You turn the TV off with your smartphone and go to bed. Pretty smart, right?

Connected TV, whether accessed through Apple TV’s STB, Samsung ‘s Yahoo!-enabled internet TVs or one of the myriad rivals, will let viewers catch up with and interact with the content they want, when and where they want it, with advertisers capturing deep behavioural data in the process. The trend for this kind of on-demand online video is already well into its adolescence, withNBC/Disney/NewsCorp‘s streaming network Hulu more than doubling US revenue to $240m in 2010, and 330m Chinese people watching online TV. UK-based Generator Research has predicted a 400% increase in global internet TV viewers, to 298m by 2014 – with annual ad revenues up 2500% to $6bn in the same period. For more, see Contagious 25.

Apple TV

Steve Jobs used to refer to Apple TV as a mere hobby – but now it’s clear the team behind mobile and music game changers iPhone and iPod and iTunes Store means business. The new Apple TV fits in the palm of the hand and comes with an equally manageable $99 price tag. From there, users can rent shows and series via iTunes, streaming them directly to the TV. Flickr provides a photo element, iTunes again taking care of music. Early reviews have criticised the insistence on streaming rental-only films and shows. What’s more, like Google, Apple will have to work hard on its acquisitions and payments to ensure content creators play ball. Yet a combination of the company’s trademark usability with an STB connecting to iPhones, iPads and Apple desktops and laptops through an AirPlay feature is an appealing prospect, particularly for Apple evangelists.


Those looking for an alternative to the glitchy hegemony of Apple TV for all their web streaming needs could purchase rival service Boxee’s hardware in November this year. The sleek little box syncs content from computers to your TV screen whilst pulling in movies, TV shows and additional content via a series of apps. Perhaps the most enjoyable feature of the Boxee box dovetails with the ‘web of intent’ trend outlined in the ‘Movements’ section of this year’s Most Contagious. A button installed on your web browser enables you to mark any video link for later viewing, and the Boxee box yanks the content for you to stream through your TV at your leisure. Magic.

Interactive TV

If connected TV is content you want, when you want it, interactive TV describes the ways in which broadcasters, software developers and content providers are seeking to retain viewers beyond the half-hour broadcast slot, sharing content and buzz with peers through apps and check-ins to shows. The proliferation of smaller, additional screens – netbooks, smartphones, tablets – means there’s plenty of opportunity for couch potatoes lacking the attention span to stick through a 12-minute segment of Idol or X Factor without checking the Twittersphere’s reaction to Gaga‘s guest appearance. On a more cerebral note, UK voters will remember how social commentary surrounding the first General Election debates informed opinion polls. For more see the feature inContagious 24.

Most successfully this year, London-based production company Monterosa‘s World Cup 2010 pilot of the ITV Live online app reached a million users in the first week of the tournament. More recently an interactive site, also by Monterosa, let viewers play along online with Channel 4 gameshow The Million Pound Drop, real-time data from viewers incorporated into the show and 4.5% of viewers taking up the opportunity.

content via Contagious