TV is already interactive. And its getting more so every day. Liberty
Media Chairman John Malone makes a compelling argument that the TV remote
control is the most interactive device ever invented.
Instant gratification. When you see that ad for the SaladShooter, no
longer will you have to race for pen and paper to frantically jot down the
phone number or rely on a faulty memory. Just click on the icon, place the
order and youll be cranking cole slaw in no time.
Can we talk? When it comes to anonymous conversation, no venue has ever
created as much buzz as America Onlines chat rooms. Interactive TV will give
chatters a whole new world to talk about.
Have it your way. Dont like watching a National Association of Stock Car
Auto Racing race from the press box perspective? No problem. With
interactivity, you can ride shotgun with any driver on the track or jump from
the cheap seats to the pits. Advertisers will be able to customize their
pitches, sparing you the spot for hemorrhoid ointment when youre in the
market for lip balm.
Convergence. PCs and TVs are already roommates, so why not let them
converge? More than 44 million PCs share a room with a TV in the U.S., and
three of every five online users say they watch TV and go online at the same
time, according to the America Online/Roper Starch Cyberstudy.
Easy-breezy navigation. One of interactive TVs most daunting prospects
is the challenge of navigating thousands of channels and Web pages. Not to
worry. Companies such as Canal+ and Liberate Technologies have developed
navigation systems that put Internet search engines to shame.
Generation T. The remote has been passed to a new generation, the most
interactive in history. Watching young people surf through 150 channels is
enough to make you seasick, but short attention spans definitely work in
interactive TVs favor. Driven by new technologies and increased income, media
usage spiked 3.8 percent, to 3,399 hours per person in 1999. By 2004, the
figure is expected to reach 3,786 hours per person or 10 hours per day,
according to Veronis Suhlers Communications Industry Forecast. American teens
are the main source of the surging media usage, playing video games and
listening to recorded music.
Give my regards to broadband. Making TV interactive is a two-way street,
and that street is now paved with high-speed cable and DSL. An estimated 10.6
million homes now subscribe to digital services, a number expected to grow to
42.1 million in 2006.
The problem is not with your set-top box. Certainly, there have been
setbacks in set-top boxes. Microsoft appears to be all thumbs in shifting its
PC expertise to TV. But the OpenCable platform is coming and, until then,
interactive TV set-tops from major players abound.
Walled gardens. "Seen on TV" still confers status. When was the last time
you heard someone say: "I saw you on my PC last night?" A higher barrier to
entry means the products, people and services that come across your TV carry
more clout than the ephemera of the Internet. In the interactive arena,
"walled gardens" will keep the Net riffraff out, while permitting your
prescreened guests to arrive in style.
Numbers count. While people spend 1.2 billion hours per week in front of
their PCs, they invest nearly three times that much time watching
Pause, rewind and slo-mo. The personal video recorder is here now, but
imagine what it can do with interactive TV. You can pause the Dallas
Cowboys-Washington Redskins game you are watching live and switch over to the
Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. You wont miss a
Home shopping is here to stay. In just one day, the Home Shopping Network
sold out of its supply of 14-karat tanzanite rings, valued at $1.6 million.
While Net commerce is growing, experts say buying on TV is a more rewarding
experience for most shoppers because it is a "warmer" medium than a
The new U. Online education is a growing phenomenon, but experience has
shown that TV is the Cadillac of distance learning, despite its lack of
interactivity. On the PC, you can interact, but the quality of streaming
media, if it exists at all, is pathetic. Bring these two venues together in
interactive TV, and you have a powerful new classroom experience.
The La-Z-Boy way to pay bills. Who says you wont want to pay a bill
during a commercial? With interactive TV, you can access your services from
the comfort of your recliner. The dog wont even have to get off your