Showtime Networks, Betfair Launch Interactive TV Widgets

--Both Widgets Designed for Connected TV Sets Running Yahoo! TV Widget Platform

Premium programmer, Showtime Networks, on Wednesday announced the launch of the Showtime TV Widget, an interactive TV application designed for Internet-connected TV sets running the Yahoo! TV Widget Engine platform. According to the company, the new widget will provide viewers with interactive TV services, free sample episodes of Showtime original series season premieres, behind-the-scenes video features, "value-added content," and other "insider extras," via their connected TV's. "With the launch of the Showtime TV Widget, Showtime has an exciting new way to reach consumers," Robert Hayes, Showtime's SVP and general manager of digital media, said in a prepared statement. "With a few clicks of the remote, potential new Showtime subscribers can watch free sample season premiere episodes of great programming like 'Dexter' and 'Californication.' Viewers can instantly access video extras, fan guides and interactive features like trivia and polling. With the Showtime TV Widget we're one step closer to the powerful convergence of the Internet and television."

According to Showtime, the new widget, which it says is designed for easy navigation with the remote control, features sections for original series, movies, sports, and "video extras," and serves as a "handy mini guide loaded with everything related to Showtime." The company says that viewers who want to find out more about actors can use the widget to explore cast lists, bios and filmographies; and that the "video extras" section is "packed with behind-the-scenes extras, sneak peaks at upcoming episodes, cast interviews and original short form Webisodes, all delivered over the Internet directly to the TV set."

In related news: London-based online betting company, Betfair, announced Wednesday the launch of what it claims is the first betting application for TV's running the Yahoo! TV Widget Engine. The company also said that, "seeing the importance of this emerging interactive platform," it has created a specialist interactive TV team to develop interactive gambling services for the Yahoo! widget platform. "TV's are the center of home entertainment, and live sport on TV drives our business," Betfair TV CEO, Simon Miller, said in a prepared statement. "The way people interact with their televisions is changing. Our investment in this exciting new platform ensures that Betfair is an integral part of the future of Internet-connected TV." Added Arlo Rose, senior director of product management and design at Yahoo! Connected TV: "Yahoo! is the trusted partner for publishers who want to take advantage of our global distribution channels and advancements in building a worldwide developer ecosystem for publishing and distributing new and innovative TV widgets. In those countries that allow it, the Betfair TV Widget provides sports enthusiasts with an online entertainment experience to enhance their sports television watching." Betfair says it will be demo'ing the new widget at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

North America