Interactive Television

Technology is now innovating new ways to view information. Technologies that once existed by themselves are now coming together as one. Television, communication, and computer industries are merging their technologies, and the result is interactive television. Large corporations are betting that if interactive television is offered to the public at a reasonable price, Americans will eat it up. However, interactive television will not be as lucrative for corporations as many of them think. It has a lot of interesting possibilities with a great deal of potential for advertisers. But interactive television requires concentration and an intensity level of viewing that most Americans do not have. Americans use television as a background while they do other chores or eat dinner. They like to watch television in groups, not by themselves. The problem with interactive television is that it works best with a focused individual viewer without distractions. It also requires the user to remain indoors for long periods of time which people don’t like to do. Human beings are social animals. It is this fact that will keep them from being glued to their television sets. Clearly these factors will not allow interactive television to overtake the American home.
So what exactly is interactive television and what does it do? Interactive television is the ability literally to interact with the television set just like we do with a home computer on the Internet. With the advent of fiber optics and satellite communications, the communications industry will be able to transfer megabytes of information in fractions of a second. This will allow every American access to the information super highway. It also allows others, such as advertisers, access to them. New technologies will be rushing into the market place over the next few years. Virtually all signals will be digital; analog will be a thing of the past. Large corporations like Microsoft and AT&T have already capitalized on multimedia and home PC’s. There are already CD ROM applications that use the Internet for multimedia interactive purchasing of products and vacation plans. With interactive television, virtually everyone can advertise and sell products to anyone with access. Shopping for clothes, food, or any other product can be done from the home and then delivered to the purchaser later. Bill Gates of Microsoft has already made his predictions for interactive TV:
“You’re watching Seinfeld on TV, and you like the jacket he’s wearing. You click on it with your remote control. The show pauses and a Windows style drop-down menu appears at the top of the screen, asking if you want to buy it. you click ‘yes.’ The next menu offers you a choice of colors; you click on black. Another menu lists your credit cards asking which one you’ll use for this purchase. Click on MasterCard or whatever. Which address should the purchase go to, your office, your home or your cabin? Click one address and you are done--the menus disappear and Seinfeld picks up where it left off.
Just as you’ll already have taught the computer about your credit cards and addresses, you will have had your body measured by a 3-D version of supermarket scanners, so the system will know your exact sizes. And it will send the data electronically to a factory, where robots will custom-tailor the jacket to your measurements. An overnight courier service will deliver it to your door the next morning.”
This idea may seem a little far fetched but the technology does exists to implement it. If this type of an interactive television is implemented, we might not have commercials interrupting our TV shows every ten minutes. Which sounds good at first, but instead they would be integrated into the shows themselves. Seinfeld will say to Cramer “what do you think of my new shoes? They’re the new Nike Air Jordan’s with the pump action fit and custom design. Pretty cool huh? They only cost me one hundred and thirty bucks.” Instead of commercial breaks we might have one long commercial with entertainment breaks. This type of marketing is why advertisers and big corporations are pushing so hard for interactive television. It allows for limitless possibilities in buying and selling. However, to the average American this type of advertising will not be as effective as many corporations would like.
American television