July 21, 2004

checking in on interactive tv

I’m at the AFI Enhanced TV Workshop today learning about the state of the art in interactive TV, or as AFI calls it, eTV. This is the Creative Showcase, which is the kickoff event for a six month intensive production cycle where selected creative teams will produce functional prototypes of eTV programs (or should I say applications? Experiences? Hmm…). We’re about halfway through a program that firehoses a long string of 15 minute segments, each of which is a demo of a broadcast eTV program from 2003-04. So far we have seen examples of the two-screen model, where the PC provides an interactive adjunct to the TV (CNN Crossfire Interactive Thursdays, Celebrity Mole Yucatan, Jetix Cards Live!), and the set-top box model (TiVo’s advertising model for Nissan, Disney and Coke), EchoStar/Dish Network’s Showtime Interactive and Playin’ TV, Cablevision’s IO). We also had a quite interesting keynote by Emma Somerville, head of iTV at the BBC, to kick it off.

Some notable notes:
- The BBC sends interactive programming to 30 million subscribers, over ½ of homes in the UK. Of these, over 80% have “pressed red”, that is, they have used the red button on their remote to choose some interactive option. There were over 190 interactive programs on the Beeb last year.
- A cool example of BBC iTV: the ability to watch the feed from any of 6 courts at Wimbledon.
- A funny example: they have a tradition of showing the Sound of Music at Christmas, and adding karaoke singalong capability has been a runaway hit!
- TiVo currently has 1.6 million subs, and projects 10 million by the end of 2006. In other words, they believe they aren’t dead yet.
- Dish network claims 500K subs use interactive capability each month to pay their TV bill, check their account, add new channels.

More on the afternoon festivities later. Maybe some links as well.

Posted by Gene at July 21, 2004 02:39 PM | TrackBack
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