If you’ve followed the TV tech industry at all, you know the difficulties associated with getting interactive television apps to market. Technologists and marketers have held out the promise of iTV for years with little to show for it. But slowly that’s changing. Two years ago CableLabs and Comcast put tru2way (aka OCAP) front and center at CES. Last year, the reality of legacy equipment in the field set in, and the focus shifted (back) to EBIF. This year EBIF has gotten an update, and several cable operators have committed to widespread EBIF rollouts.
Official tallies are hard to come by, but we know Comcast deployed EBIF on Motorola set-tops last year, and Verizon started even earlier with EBIF embedded in a guide update that was pushed out at the end of 2008 and into 2009. Now that CableLabs has updated the EBIF spec, several other cable operators are on board. Most notably, Time Warner Cable has said EBIF is a priority in 2010. Charter, Cox, and Bright House have also reiterated their commitments to the technology.
So what does this mean for consumers? Addressable (targeted) advertising is going to be a big focus, at least in trials, but consumers should also see a number of new widget-type experiences. As an example, Verizon just launched the Showtime Sports Interactive service. During Showtime boxing and mixed martial arts events, consumers can now access bios, stats, trivia, polls, and more directly on the TV screen. Verizon states that this is the first-ever HD EBIF app, and the first-ever EBIF app to incorporate interactive polling. It won’t be the last by a long shot.
*Note: Industry folks know that Biap, the company listed in the photo above, changed its name to FourthWall Media last year. The photo is outdated, but I love the visual enough that I’ve decided to ignore that fact.