Verizon adds Facebook and Twitter to FiOS TV

US telco Verizon has announced some major new additions to its 'FiOS TV' service - the Widget Bazaar applications store, which includes from launch a Facebook widget and a Twitter widget, and Internet Video on TV.

The company also plans to offer an open development platform to permit developers to write interactive FiOS TV applications that will be available through the Widget Bazaar, in a similar fashion to the Apple App store. The addition of Internet Video on TV will enable users to search and view a variety of online videos on their TV screens from a variety of providers, including Veoh, and Dailymotion.

"With FiOS, passive TV becomes social TV, part of the sweeping cultural shift that's changing how people connect with one another to share ideas, information and entertainment," said Shawn Strickland, Vice President of Marketing for Verizon Telecom. "We're working with some of the most popular companies on the Web to create the foundation for a high-quality, engaging Internet-to-TV experience that will only expand and grow richer."

The new Widget Bazaar applications marketplace, located within FiOS TV's Interactive Media Guide, is launching with free Facebook, Twitter and ESPN Fantasy Football Widgets. The Twitter Widget enables FiOS TV subscribers to follow Tweets related specifically to the programme, movie or sporting event they are watching, as well as select from a list of top topics to view Tweets associated with today's hottest topics and trends, search for specific Tweets, and create and save a favorite-topics list.

FiOS TV subscribers with Facebook accounts can log in to Facebook through the FiOS TV Widget to update their Facebook status with messages about what they're watching, view their own photos, and view their friends' photos and status updates. The ESPN Fantasy Football Widget provides instant on-screen access to personalised ESPN Fantasy Football points and football statistics, including rosters, box scores, scoring leaders and player information. All the information is available, at no additional charge, for FiOS TV customers who are registered ESPN Fantasy Football players.

These applications are described as being "only the beginning" for the FiOS TV Widget Bazaar: in the coming months, Verizon will add dozens of additional free and transactional applications developed by the company and others to the FiOS TV Widget Bazaar. Verizon reports that it will soon publish its Software Development Kit (SDK) to enable open development of widgets, enabling developers to publish applications to FiOS TV's growing base of more than 7 million interactive set-top devices in FiOS TV homes.

Finally, later this month customers who subscribe to the Home Media DVR service will have access a new Internet Video feature that will allow them to search and view on FiOS TV user generated online videos from video-sharing sites, Dailymotion and Veoh. In addition, a new My Videos feature will let these subscribers view via FiOS TV personal videos stored on their PCs. Both new features will be available free of charge to FiOS Home Media DVR customers and require no additional equipment.

Verizon had 1.92mn subscribers for FiOS TV at the end of 2008, more than double the 943,000 it recorded at end-2007, and currently offers over 500 linear channels, including more than 115 high-definition channels, and more than 15,000 monthly VOD titles, as well as interactive services including an advanced interactive media guide, news and entertainment Widgets, remote DVR management, multi-room DVR and casual games. Linear content on the service is delivered via RF over its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTH) network, while interactive and on-demand services are delivered over the same network via IP.