Web surfers versus TV watchers: Who's lazier?
August 14, 1998
by Kristi Essick
(IDG) -- TV viewers are a lazy bunch and won't adopt interactive, Internet-type activities on screen unless they can be accessed with a simple flick of the remote control, according to a new study by Forrester Research.
Interactive television Ð TV with the addition of Internet access, personal programming guides or other interactive content Ð will have 10 million viewers worldwide by 2002, according to the market research company. However, this number will taper off if providers don't begin to tailor their interactive programming and applications to the couch potato set, Forrester said in its new report entitled "Lazy Interactive TV." The interactive TV applications offered today are geared toward a user who is online-savvy and likes to play around with new technologies Ð more the image of a Web surfer than a channel surfer.
TV watchers are not usually as interested in gee-whiz technologies and would rather have simple-to-use interactive applications that can be accessed through the remote control, Forrester said. Until broadcasters, interactive content providers and application developers realize that TV viewers are fundamentally different than Internet users, interactive TV will not take off in a big way, the research firm said.
"To succeed on TV, an interactive application needs to work for viewers who have a remote in one hand and a beer in the other," Josh Bernoff, principal analyst in Forrester's People and Technology Strategies service said in a statement. Bernoff is also the author of Forrester's "Lazy Interactive TV" report. While there are plenty of interactive TV applications available today, very few are easy-to-use, mini-applications geared toward TV watchers' short attention spans, he said.
Applications that would appeal to TV watchers include things such as the ability to purchase a CD during an MTV video by hitting a button on the remote control, or responding to talk-show opinion polls, Bernoff said. These sorts of mini applications will pop up during commercials, news, weather and sports programming and talk shows, but the most important thing is that interactive TV applications cannot demand too much energy or thought.
Whether set-top boxes or televisions with integrated digital tuners (such as the eTVs now being developed jointly by Microsoft and Thomson Multimedia) will take center stage in the interactive TV arena remains to be seen. However, it won't be until digital cable services arrive that the concept of interactive TV will really take off, Forrester said in its report. This is because digital cable provides a high-bandwidth, two-way connection between viewers and interactive service providers.
With digital cable roll-outs expected to begin in earnest in the next few years, Forrester believes that nearly all of the predicted 6 million digital cable subscribers in 2002 will use interactive TV services.
Kristi Essick writes for the IDG News Service in Paris.
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