Verizon’s FiOS service has a lot of potential for innovation, and Verizon continually demonstrates this potential in many ways, but none so frequently as their tendency to release increasingly impressive widgets. The latest big-name widget to be released to FiOS customers, the NBA League Pass widget, is certain to not only impress sports fans, but also demonstrate just where Verizon thinks that the future of television viewing is heading. In order to understand just what makes the Verizon FiOS NBA League Pass widget so appealing on many levels, it might help to start at square one and understand what a widget is.
A widget is essentially a program that runs on the TV via the set top box (STB), but due to the way that Verizon uses its advanced fiber optics network to deliver digital content, they have come up with a few interesting twists that make widgets more than just an app that can be run on a television screen. In the case of the Verizon NBA League Pass widget, the integration between app and television allows for specialized news delivery via an impressively slick split-screen interface, customizable alerts, and even order the subscription to NBA League Pass games regardless of whether they are technically out of market or not. This is ideal for any basketball fan who cannot get enough of the fast-paced action for which the NBA is famous.
The Interface is a Slam Dunk
The split-screen interface is arguably the main attraction, as it allows the left-hand portion of the TV screen to continue showing television framed by an elegant graduated gray background while the right side of the screen is comprised of menus and news. The menus can be used to customize the widget’s appearance and activities. For example, if a viewer happens to be a die-hard Chicago Bulls fan, but wants to keep tabs on a handful of other teams that they like to watch, and just wants to see the last quarter of their games, only has to the get and setup the new widget. The on-screen NBA League Pass widget can easily be set to notify them prior to the start of a game featuring the Chicago Bulls, and notify them just prior to the start of the last quarter of any other team’s game that they enjoy. If they want news from all teams, or some teams to accompany these alerts, they can set that too. Additional alerts for the end of game, end of quarter, two minutes prior to end of game, and start of overtime are all available, but only 10 teams can be tagged and followed via these alerts at this time.
The news updates are displayed on the right side of the screen, and uses a basketball-topped gray background to present real-time score updates and team icons in a way that looks as if it were being run on a sports network. The entire presentation is extremely well executed, but the NBA League Pass widget has one more trick up its sleeve: the ability to track news by player. Nearly every NBA fan as a player that they just cannot get enough of, and the designers of the NBA League Pass widget knew this when they designed their widget, as the per-player news section keeps track of recent stories in the news as well as provides real-time updates whenever new information or stories about a player are released. This can be perfect for tracking injured players, or players embroiled in unfolding events such as trades or scandals.
Keep the Home Team Happy
Many sports fans live with other people, who may not share the same interest in sports. Roommates, children, spouses, parents, and others sharing the same house may prefer other shows over sports, and would rightfully be upset if their DVR’d shows came complete with a split-screen NBA League Pass panel. Luckily, Verizon customers with DVR STBs can still use the recording functionality without worrying about their video retaining the split-screen view. This is especially important for FiOS customers who love watching their favorite shows in glorious HD. This thoughtful approach to providing a wide range of integrated services may be one of the reasons why traditional cable companies seem to be losing ground.
The NBA League Pass Widget Offers a Full Court Pres
While the NBA League Pass widget is easily one of the better sports-centric widgets on Verizon’s Widget Bazaar, but it still has room to improve for future seasons. The interface is nearly perfect, but it would be nice to be able to track more than 10 teams at once for the true die-hard NBA fan who loves the action more than a few teams. Of course, most people do follow a few teams around, which makes the 10-team limit very understandable. With a price of ‘free’ even to consumers who have not signed up for the NBA League Pass, it is hard to argue with the value of such a well-executed widget and it is easy to imagine that more than a few consumers will use this widget to sign up for Verizon’s NBA League Pass directly. After seeing how the app itself integrates into their digital television viewing experience, it is hard to imagine ever going back to viewing NBA games without it, or even being able to watch television while alternating back and forth to a sports network on commercials just for score updates. After all, that is what is the whole idea behind Verizon’s widgets are about; blurring the line between data-related services and traditional television viewing to create a customized television viewing experience.