Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interactive Television

Do we want to interact with our TVs? What does this mean? The TVOT conference had many incarnations of what might be considered interactive TV, some were not on the TV at all, but interactive 'sister' applications that run on a tablet or cell phone. Some are showing up right on the TV, which is starting to accelerate for two reasons, first, the increased sales of Smart TVs that have built-in functionality to support browsers, OTT offerings, applications and more; second, HTML5 is becoming the platform for next generation set-top boxes, which means the TV screen will have much of the functionality of a browser. How will this start to show up in your home?

Many people see sports and reality TV applications as primary opportunities; election coverage had examples last year that allowed viewers to react to debates and social applications, like twitter, are starting to 'pop-up.' Most people don't have the capability to interact with some of these features, but predictions suggest next year will provide the tipping-point for applications on TVs.  Imagine a transparent 'browser application' on-top of your viewing content. A point-of-sale coupon could pop-up and you could 'capture' it to your phone. Voting for reality TV shows could be real-time. The concepts are endless. The question is, how will it be received. We have struggled with the idea that the TV is often a one to many environment, and that interaction is more suited to a computer. This will add some complications, for example, what happens when the voting comes up and the people on the couch don't agree.

The second angle will be whether content creators and operators will invest in these interactive applications. There will be trail blazers, but many will need to have a financial incentive. The TV environment could see a lot of change in the next few years and the public will 'vote' with their behaviors, which will help determine which concepts are successful.

And what else is up? Finally all the talk of the TV controlling your household is coming to fruition, this will also succeed or fail by the actions of users. It is an interesting time for operators and content owners.

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