With an uncharacteristic lack of fanfare, Verizon has stolen a march on cable by hosting the first commercial deployment of an Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) application – on its FiOS TV service.
The application was developed by interactive TV (iTV) specialist Ensequence for NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. It provides users the option to call up Olympics news and get medal-count information, all updated in real time, at the click of a button.
Verizon’s first EBIF market is in the territory just west of Portland, Ore. Rachelle Zoffer, director of iTV at Verizon FiOS, told CED that this is not a test, it is the first market in a rollout that will cover the entire FiOS footprint.
“The next application rolled out will be everywhere,” Zoffer said. She said the company is working with other programmers, that she did not identify, on applications and is inviting all others to develop applications that can run over FiOS.
The NBC Olympics application did not feature an advertising component, but future EBIF applications certainly will. Zoffer listed any number of options available, including banner ads, telescoping ads, and the ability to request information that can be delivered as e-mail or even a text message to a mobile handset.
“Because Verizon has the three screens, we’re able to put those deals together,” she said.
Ensequence hosted a demonstration of the EBIF application it developed for NBC in its offices in Portland. The signal originally delivered by Verizon in nearby Washington County was brought in via Slingbox.
The NBC application consisted of a banner graphic across the bottom of the TV screen. Viewers could click to get additional Olympics news, or access a table, updated in real time, that tallied the medals won by all participating countries.
A square on the banner was set aside as potential ad space, though NBC and Verizon elected not to use it for the market introduction.
Ensequence has developed a set of application development tools that allow the creation of interactive applications that can run across any version of EBIF or tru2way. With Ensequence tools, a single application can be iterated to run on any screen, be it TV, computer or mobile device of any kind, CEO Dalen Harrison explained.
Harrison would not provide specific numbers but said viewer opt-in rates for the Verizon/NBC application were “incredible” and response rates far exceeded anything on the Web.
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