Verizon Jumps ITV Hurdles With Ensequence Olympics App

About 31% of FiOS TV Subs Launched App More Than 3.5 Million Times During Summer Games

Aiming to show interactive TV is still a gold-medal contender for driving viewer engagement, Verizon Communications said 1.4 million FiOS TV customers -- 31% of all video subs -- accessed an on-screen app for Olympics-related news, info and video highlights developed by ITV firm Ensequence for NBCUniversal's coverage of the 2012 London Games.

During the 16 days of NBCU's Olympics coverage, nearly one-third of Verizon's 4.47 million FiOS TV customers launched the application more than 3.5 million times. They spent more than 2 minutes on average per session with the app, and more than 60% were repeat users. The ITV application was available on NBCU channels including NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Telemundo.

"This engagement demonstrates the enhanced viewing experience our customers have come to expect with FiOS TV," Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, Verizon's director of consumer video services, said in a statement. "The numbers clearly show viewers enjoyed on-demand access to a variety of content while watching the Olympics."

Ensequence Olympics widget on Verizon FiOS TV

Dish Network also offered an interactive TV app developed by Ensequence during the 2012 Olympics. Ensequence CEO Peter Low said the results aren't yet available for Dish's usage, but he said the satellite operator showed very high engagement during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with more than 40% of subs using the app two years ago.

"I think [the results] are decisive endorsements for interactive TV," Ensequence CEO Peter Low said. "You have the right interactive content, synched with where people are watching television. It reinforced everything we believe is right about how we do interactivity."

On FiOS TV, the Olympics ITV app ran on Lua, an embeddable open-source scripting language that forms the foundation for the telco's "widget" platform. Dish's app ran on the OpenTV platform (now owned by Nagra).

The 2012 Olympics app included a variety of enhanced content including athlete information, news headlines, stories, schedule information, medals count and on demand videos.

According to Low, news headlines drove the vast majority of usage of the app on FiOS TV. Of the 5.9 million interactions with the app, 68% were for news headlines, 12% for news stories, 6% for VOD and 5% for schedule information. The remainder were for athlete profiles and bios, options and event info.

Ensequence previously worked with NBCU on ITV apps for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (on Dish) and on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (on Dish and FiOS TV).

Other customers of New York-based Ensequence include MTV Networks, Showtime Networks, Turner Broadcasting System, HBO, QVC, WeTV, MSG, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In May, Ensequence announced $25.99 million in funding led by Myrian Capital, a venture and capital management firm affiliated with the Mathile family, which owned The Iams Co. pet-food company.