Hal Krisbergh doesnt worry much about the future of interactive TV. For the founder of ITV pioneer WorldGate, the future is now.
Krisbergh was so sure about the promise of TV interactivity that he left his executive position with General Instrument in 1994 to promote the new industry. He could see interactivity taking shape as he led development of addressable converters, impulse pay-per-view and digital audio offerings.
"The thing that really happened is the Internet," Krisbergh says. "Similarly, the cable side had to wait for more sophisticated technology to arrive. And now that they have arrived, you can really take an ITV focus."
While some players wait for the development of the advanced set-top boxes under the guidance of industry consortium CableLabs,WorldGate is aggressively rolling out its interactive package to the 14 million set-top boxes already in homes across the U.S. By the end of this year, the number of boxes WorldGate can serve should reach 22 million, Krisbergh says.
By locating the heavy computing power at the cable operators head-end rather than the customers set-top box, WorldGate can deploy its Ultra-Thin Client interactive offerings with existing technology.
Among his peers in the cable industry, Krisbergh is known as a technologist who is also fluent in the language of marketing, says Char Beales, chief executive of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing. "Hes a compelling, persuasive visionary," Beales says.
Krisbergh heeds the advice of hockey great Wayne Gretzky on management: "Dont look where the puck is look where its going to be."
He doesnt spend any sleepless nights worrying about the ITV naysayers. "The typical American sits in front of the TV with six remote controls, a tower of boxes with games, DVD players, stereos, and youre telling me that this person is a dormant couch potato"