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Study: Consumers want ITV and will pay

Thu, 04/05/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

A study commissioned by interactive technology companies shows consumers want ITV service and are willing to trade up to get it.

The study was conducted by Palm Desert, Calif.-based Boyd Consulting at the behest of ACTV Inc., Liberty Livewire Corp., Motorola Inc., OpenTV and Universal Electronics Inc.

"The study's findings tell us that consumers are keenly interested in getting interactive TV services and that they like all the delivery options they were shown," said Liberty CEO David Beddow, in a statement.

Subjects were "exposed to an interactive TV experience in three ways," the study reports. First, they used a two-screen method, where a TV and computer screen were in the same room; second was the use of interactive Internet content in a digital cable or satellite set-top box to the TV, and viewed as an overlay on part of the screen; and finally, they tried an on-screen system with the ability to download content to handheld, touch-screen devices "that can personalize the interactive experience without disrupting TV viewing," the study reports.

Other findings include:

* Most people liked the two-screen and overlay methods.

* Most wanted such information as news, sports and weather (52 percent); then interactive TV guide (44 percent); behind-the-scenes info on TV programs (38 percent); e-mail (37percent); and games or quizzes (32 percent).

* Most cable and satellite customers said the overlay method would increase satisfaction with the present service.

* Almost half the analog cable customers said single-screen service might up their interest in digital cable.

A sponsor could not be reached by CEDaily's deadline. An analyst from InStat, a division of Cahners which also owns CEDaily, agrees that ITV is available, but in a very limited form.

Bottom level and most widely used -- by some 12 million -- in this country is interactive or electronic program guides, said Gerry Kaufhold, principle analyst of multimedia and broadband.

ITV is more widely used in Britain, where consumers can "buy things." A key problem, however, is that one company's report of $55 million in sales includes $49 million in online gaming, he added.

"They're betting on soccer matches with their remotes," he said. "That's illegal in most places."

ITV increasingly is available in more sophisticated forms in this country and, "Every place it's been made available in (its) existing forms, they like it," he said.

"Interactive television is here, right now, today, for millions, and they like it. But there are a lot of interactivity features to be added." Those will cost consumers in upgrades, but costs aren't "unreasonable," he said.

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