Back in the early days of the sitcom Friends, I vividly remember people talking about exciting new technology that would power interactive television. If Rachel was wearing a purse I liked, I’d be able to click on the TV screen and order the exact same pocketbook for myself. Granted I’ve never been much of a trendy shopper, but the idea was cool. Yet here we are ten years later, Friends has long gone off the air, and I’m still not clicking my TV to order stuff. What happened?
- Cable operators decided to focus on other things.
- The Internet made the World Wide Web the focus of sit-at-home shopping, browsing, and communicating.
- TV advertising continued to work well – no need to hassle with overhauling TV technology to reach consumers.
In the heady days of the 1990s there were a thousand other, easier ways to make money than fiddling with interactive television. Now, however, the environment has changed. There’s greater competition in video delivery and greater expectations from consumers who have learned through the Internet just how much they should be able to do with a few clicks of a button.
So without further ado, here are the top five signs that the time is ripe for interactive television.
- Web 2.0 – If there’s anything Web 2.0 apps have shown us, it’s that consumers want to be more than passive screen-watchers. It’s a natural connection from the computer screen to the TV screen.
- DVRs – Nothing has thrown companies into a panic quite the way the commercial-skipping technology has. Investments have increased in product placement, but companies are also making long-form advertising available on-demand for consumers who want to research specific products and product categories (think car shopping). This is the start of TV-based commerce. (Okay, QVC not included.)
- OCAP Cometh – The cable industry has thrown serious support behind the platform that will enable interactive TV over cable. Several MSOs are planning OCAP deployments this year, and CableLabs has announced the first ever OCAP Developers Forum event in advance of this year’s Cable Show.
- Studio TV – Verizon is one of a few companies that has announced it’s working on a “Studio TV” concept to allow viewers to create their own TV channels. But even before that, consumers have already learned that they can get more active with their televisions – commenting on TV characters’ blogs, voting for American Idol contestants on their cell phones…
- The TV of Tomorrow Show – Tracy Swedlow (interactive-TV veteran and publisher of InteractiveTV Today) has a new show! Yes, Ms. Swedlow is launching The TV of Tomorrow Show, March 13-14 in San Francisco. Clearly interactive TV is on its way up.