ABC wrangles widgets for shows

'Lost,' 'America' get interactive treatment

“Good Morning America” and “Lost” may be among the first Disney-ABC shows to get the widget treatment.

That’s the word from Disney Media Networks co-chair/Disney-ABC TV Group prexy Anne Sweeney, who’s set to give Thursday’s keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Sweeney’s expected to spend part of her speech praising Intel’s new CE 3100 media processor, which has the ability to compress the processing power of a personal computer into other consumer devices.

The chip would allow TV viewers to access related information at the same time on their screen via widgets.

“Good Morning America” immediately came to mind as one of the ABC properties that would benefit the most from such technology, Sweeney told Daily Variety.

“It may be possible for viewers to get more information on featured stories or to cast their vote and express their opinion in real time about an issue in the broadcast,” Sweeney plans to say today. “The broad audience and format of the show lend themselves to a number of applications.”

Sweeney said ABC also planned to develop an application specifically for the series finale of “Lost” next year.

The exec remains cautious on jumping too far into the new widget technology, however, given the “many unanswered questions of how this will work, what kind of legal issues are involved, and what it could ultimately mean to my business.”

But Sweeney said the Intel chip is a prime example of her overall message to the electronics industry: Spend more time focusing on the consumer, and making new technologies easier for people to use.

“It’s not just about great content and cool technology — the functionality consumers are looking for also requires a great user interface,” she plans to tell attendees. “We can’t just build it and hope consumers will come — we have to create simple and easy ways for them to find it, use it and enjoy it.”

Sweeney said she believed the message of Thursday’s speech is timely, given the current economic climate: “The days of buying things just because they’re fun are over for the moment.”

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