LAS VEGAS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) on Thursday threw its weight behind a new Intel (INTC.O) chip that lets TV viewers interact with their favorite programs, underscoring a continuing effort to merge computers and media.
Anne Sweeney, President of Disney-ABC Television, said viewers may be able to access complementary content during the series finale of the hit ABC-network series "Lost" next year through the chip, designed to power Internet-based applications on household TVs.
The new chip from Intel could offer content providers like Disney and electronics manufacturers new ways to collaborate on programming, Sweeney said at the Consumer Electronics Show [ID:nN05368327] in Las Vegas.
The chip, which Intel launched last year specifically targeted at the consumer electronics industry, is designed to be included in TV sets and contains software that lets networks, content creators and other developers add their own applications. It has the "potential to make TV viewing more functional and more fun," Sweeney said.
ABC's "Good Morning America" and Lost -- both popular shows with millions of viewers -- were good candidates for this type of add-on programming, she added.
Sweeney said they could work on widgets -- small software applications -- that allow GMA viewers to cast votes or comment in real-time on stories being broadcast. ABC could even build widgets that take viewers through the step-by-step instructions for recipes shown on GMA's cooking segment.
And ABC may also develop an application specifically for the series finale of "Lost", next year. The show follows the lives of plane crash survivors on a tropical island and will kick off a new season later this month.
"We know fans of Lost have a huge appetite for insight and information into the show," Sweeney said. "Using the Intel Widget for the series finale could be a great way to give our fans an extraordinary viewing experience for the end of a truly iconic show."
U.S. households are rapidly accessing content through channels other than traditional broadcasting.
About 30 percent of U.S. homes have a digital video recorder and 39 percent have video-on-demand, Sweeney cited latest research as saying. About 38 percent of wireless subscribers have a video-capable cell phone, and U.S. viewers watch as many as 7.5 billion online video streams in any given month.