2009, the dawn of the connected TV?


Broadcom announced this month that LG Electronics had selected its BCM3549 Media SoC (System on a Chip) as the core for its new line of connected HDTVs. The new LG models will feature their Netcast Entertainment Access which provides viewers access to broadband content and services including Netflix and media widgets right through the TV screen.

This announcement further supports the prediction that 2009 will see the dawn of the Connected TV. Although, to be fair, Sony has had a broadband TV solution since 2007 through their Bravia Internet Video Link. The BIVL, which provides a wide variety of hyper-syndicated & premium content to certain Bravia models, is a small broadband-connected device that connects to the back of the set. This year Sony is scheduled to begin shipping the Bravia XBR9 and Z-Series which have the BIVL module integrated in the TV.

In addition to Sony & LG, this year we will see Connected TV�s from Samsung, Panasonic and Vizio hitting the market. SoC manufacturers have been busily crafting robust solutions specifically for this nascent market. Chips such as Broadcom�s BCM3549 and Intel�s CE3100 are designed to support a wide variety of media content types. Both chips support traditional broadcast protocols as well as technologies previously only available in the desktop computer arena. Native support for Flash as well as ports of the Yahoo! Widget Engine provide a well-understood foundation for the creation of interactive TV applications.

But where�s the content? Even though, with their BIVL Sony has had a significant head-start in terms of amassing a rich content library, and the Yahoo! Widget spec is well traveled, Broadcom�s announced collaboration with Chumby will make this budding company a serious contender. Chumby, one of my all-time-favorite gadget companies, has been creating utility, media & social Widgets for their small touch-screen device for a couple of years now. Given the huge palette of tried-and-tested Chumby Widgets, Broadcom-enabled sets will have a ready-to-roll catalog of useful TV Applications.

Marcomm agencies and Media companies should all be looking carefully at this emerging technology to leverage for their brands and content. Connected TVs that support Widgets and interactive video frameworks such as Flash, will very quickly do to the TV ecosystem what the Apple iPhone and App store did to Mobile. IE: Make it fun again.