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MySpace Attempts Leap to TV

The Catch: You've Got to Buy a New Flat Screen

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- MySpace wants users to update their status while watching TV -- literally. While social networking addicts often watch TV and surf the web simultaneously, the News Corp.-owned service has partnered with Yahoo and Intel to create a "MySpace Widget for TV," which will allow users to interact with MySpace on a new generation of web-connected TVs.

The MySpace Widget for TV will allow users to interact with MySpace on a new generation of web-connected TVs.
The MySpace Widget for TV will allow users to interact with MySpace on a new generation of web-connected TVs.
The widget is based on a TV application developed by Yahoo and running on devices with Intel's Media Processor chip, which will be included in TVs made by Samsung, Toshiba and other device-makers. It's part of a major effort by the two companies to marry television and the web on a host of new TVs, set-top boxes, and other devices.

"We believe bringing MySpace to the TV will transform the way people think about social networking and provide a seamless experience for users to enjoy MySpace while watching TV," said William O. Leszinske, general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group.

MySpace, Intel and Toshiba showed the new service to attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Baby steps toward TV-web convergence have become something of a CES tradition, and this year is no exception. Yahoo and Intel introduced its TV application platform called the "Widget Channel" on Monday, of which the MySpace application is a part; also Monday, LG Electronics announced a new line of TVs that will connect directly to Netflix.

While the widget won't allow users to upload photos or video, it will allow them to interact with their profile and "friends" in many of the ways they do on their laptops, including: receive friend updates, read and respond to messages, and browse photos and other profiles.

Of course, MySpace anticipates that the widget will be ad-supported. "We are currently exploring how to best integrate advertising into the widget ... and do it in a way that complements the viewing experience," a spokesperson said.

Ian Schafer, CEO of independent agency Deep Focus and an expert in marketing on social media, thinks it's a good idea for MySpace to get in early and experiment with TV, but is skeptical on this concept.

"I think it's a little forced; once you get beyond the functional and practical it begins to clutter the experience," he said. "It's competing modes of experience."

The success of this, like many other convergence devices, depends on the consumer's willingness to upgrade their equipment, a tough sell in this economy.

"The question is are people going to buy a television because of this? If they are buying a flat screen TV they probably already have a laptop at home and it is probably sitting next to them on the couch," Mr. Schafer said.

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