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WebTV Browser -- and WebTV Business?

 1:52 am on Nov 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

In another thread [webmasterworld.com] thepunter brought up the issue of the WebTV browser.

WebTV offers a simulator for their browser on their site [developer.webtv.net]. There is also an easy to use online viewer at AnyBrowser.com [anybrowser.com], but it's version 1.1 of the WebTV browser, which is now up to version 2.5.

The main restriction on the WebTV browser is the screen width (550 pixels). WebTV has an algorithm that squeezes everything down to that width, no matter how you code your HTML. One big technical difference between a TV picture and a monitor is that a TV is interlaced -- only half the lines of a screen are displayed on each pass, and they alternate.

Here's 3 basic rules I follow when WebTV matters to a client.

1. Small fonts are not going to work. The WebTV browser will automatically fatten up your <font> tags, but beware of any text in graphics. Make all the letter forms substantial or they won't be legible on a TV screen.

2. Avoid all-white backgrounds -- they make a lot of TVs freak out. You'll notice that the WebTV website has sort of a light tan background.

3. Avoid intense colors like bright red -- looks like chocolate pudding, at best.

If you get into fancy stuff -- multi media and all that -- then you need to study the developer's materials that WebTV provides.

Does anyone here get significant WebTV traffic? I have two clients who felt their products warranted it, and they paid extra to develop a WebTV compatible site -- but the traffic/sales just aren't there for them.



 2:05 am on Nov 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

>Does anyone here get significant WebTV traffic?

nop BUT our stuff doesn't appeal to 8th graders

<------[and we like white backgrounds]


 2:09 am on Nov 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

>Does anyone here get significant WebTV traffic?
Sorry Tedster, I get 1 or 2 referrals a QUARTER.


 2:39 am on Nov 26, 2000 (gmt 0)

Well, we do see more than 1 or 2 a quarter. More like 1 or 2 a week, but that's still not anywhere near a viable level for business. These are products that have a strong senior citizen demographic -- and big AOL numbers. One of them is something like 80% of their online sales from AOL, and the other is about half.

I suspect the site owners may have a good hunch about WebTV, but I haven't been able to get it to pay off so far. If anyone has any hints about getting WebTV business, I'd love to hear them.

My biggest suspicion is that no one wants to give a credit card number to a TV set. Doesn't seem prudent.


 4:14 am on Nov 27, 2000 (gmt 0)

The last number I heard was that they'd sold about 800K WebTV boxes, but that's an old number. Consequently, you're not going to see many WebTV users unless you have something tightly targetted at them.


 5:40 am on Nov 27, 2000 (gmt 0)

I'd say you're right. The current numbers for total boxes in use are hard to find, but I've been doing a little more poking around. The WebTV site says they serve 65 million page views per day, and that 40% of their subscribers have made at least one purchase online in the last year.

So it's not exactly a gold rush. Furthermore, it looks like you need to directly target the WebTV user by advertising through WebTV itself.

Microsoft, the owner, is looking to push interactive TV programming through a partnership with CBS for the next year. I think they know that WebTV will not even rival the Mac in the online world, so they have a new gameplan.


 12:45 am on Nov 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

>>Does anyone here get significant WebTV traffic?
>Sorry Tedster, I get 1 or 2 referrals a QUARTER.
Evidently, that was the 3rd quarter, because now I'm getting 2 or 3 a day on two travel sites. There's some sort of promo with GO.com perhaps? They all look like this in the logs



 4:24 am on Nov 30, 2000 (gmt 0)

>...now I'm getting 2 or 3 a day on two travel sites.

It's been sneaking up on me, too. I thought it would be gone by now, and instead referals are up, although still very anaemic.

Last week I got some email from a new contact who has a WebTV email address. In the past year I've had 2 other clients who had WebTV addresses until well after their sites were launched -- then they KNEW they had to buy a PC.

Funny thing, one of those clients who didn't own a PC was a domain name speculator! He would hire me to create content to help him sell various domains. All the time he was only online through WebTV.

It does get me thinking about an under-noticed market. Microsoft owns WebTV. They're collaborating with CBS. They're worth at least keeping them on the radar, IMO.

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