and Information] [Sport]
[Education and Other Government Services]
[E-mail, Teletext & Internet Access] [Other Interactive Services]
Part 1: [Provider's Interactive Services] [Home Shopping] [Home Banking and other Financial Services]
[Examples of Interactive
Video on demand is more suited to high speed cable and ADSL telephone lines than satellite and terrestrial television but it is still some way off although BT has been running a number of pilots for a number of years.
Information associated with entertainment will be an early value-added service, for example a film director's commentary, technical information about the special effects, scheduling information, biographical information about the star. This leads to many opportunities for merchandise.
Cable and Wireless has spent £13m to acquired a 50.1% stake in Two Way TV, a company based in London. Two Way TV allows subscribers to participate live in TV quizes. Trials have been underway in 3,000 homes in the Midlands for some years. Subscribers paid up to £9.95 per month and were using the service on average 10 hours a week. In April 99 it announced that Uproar will be porting its internet range of single and multiplay trivia, puzzle and card games to C&W digital TV.
Flextech Interactive will provide core entertainment content for Cable & Wireless Digital such as their SceneOne and The UK’s Entertainment Guide. SceneOne offers information on cinema, TV, radio, music, concerts, theatre, comedy, online, books and videos and also enables the customer to buy direct. Another supplier to C&W is Live TV which will provide information to support its TV shows like ‘Agony’ and ‘Boys Toys’.
BSkyB, Telewest, NTL and Cable and Wireless have all signed up gameplay.com to provide interactive gaming.
ITV Digital plans to offer interactive games later in 1999. Interactivity brings a new dimension to game playing, allowing people to play remotely against other persons. This could range from finding and playing against a matching chess player to being involved in combat type games against many unknown competitors.
Open has signed up Square.com, an online betting service.
Organisations with well established news and information databases are well placed to offer their services to digital TV viewers. These include the news, sports results, weather, what's on, financial markets, food recipes, etc. Whilst these are already available in a non interactive form, digital television and other programmable and interactive devices allow people to search and to personalise the information they receive, and to set "alarms" to tell them when key information changes or particular events happen.
The power of closed loop systems is seen in the US where CN Business Channel (CNBC) provides live coverage of Wall Street both as commentary and ticker-tape prices along the bottom of the screen. As news comes in, it is possible to see prices rise or fall. And because television is a mass audience device, the audience consists of both amateurs and professionals with peak viewing reaching 700,000. Some commentators are concerned that inexperienced investment amateurs are causing wild fluctuations in the market, whereas others welcome the broadening audience as a sign of a more democratic and transparent marketplace.
Cable and Wireless has agreements with Bloomberg, EMAP Online (owners of Bargainholidays.com), EMAP Radio (Key 103 station in Manchester), Scoot (localised classified directory), PA Sporting Life (sports information), LOOT (free ads), Manchester Evening News, ABC Connect, ITN and Associated New Media to provide content.
Bloomberg will offer business users a package of interactive business information, from technology papers, stock prices and business reports through to personal portfolios.
Sports enthusiasts need an endless supply of fact and figures. With digital TV these can be displayed on screen or in a separate window. New developments are allowing viewers to select the camera of their choice. Bernie Ecclestone, founder of the Formula One Constructors' Association has invested £50m in equipping his own digital technical operations to give this facility to F1 motor sport. With BSkyB's Sky Sports Extra viewers can interactive with the programme, choosing viewing angles, instant replays and additional text information. Some sport events are broadcast by BSkyB over the Internet.
In 2001 the BBC introduced interactive facilities for Wimbledon on BBC1 and BBC2 broadcast via BSkyB's digital satellite service. It provided a choice of 5 matches to watch, either all at once or a single match in full screen, plus scores and other results information. See interactive examples.
Channel 4 has fitted small light-weight camera to horses and links the horse races to betting services and educational information that helps to demistify the sport and thus make it accessible to a wide audience.
Gambling is expected to be a significant service on interactive TV as it reaches the mass audience who are regular gamblers. Littlewoods Leisure (a spin off from the Littlewoods catalogue shopping arm) at the end of July 2000 launched a television version of its pools and lottery games. The potential jackpot is a cool £2m. The company has seen its traditional football betting, often sold by door step or work place collectors, slump from 6m to 2m since the National Lottery was introduced. It will be available to subscribers of Telewest Communications, one of the UK's major cable operators. Viewers will even be able to bet on the outcome of the National Lottery.
Blue Square has devised away of circumventing ITC gambling rules that prohibits the promotion of gambling by TV channels. Using digital TV's in picture facility it will display the gambling event (e.g. horse race) in a screen window whilst the rest of the screen is connected to its internet gambling site. BSkyB is using the system via Open and ONdigital is using the system via its ONnet service.
A major gambling initiative is Go Racing's plan for a dedicate 24 hour horse racing channel on BSkyB with interactive betting and form data, as well as racing on Channel 4. After 2 years of tendering and negotiation the deal almost collapsed when 2 of the parties couldn't agree over the fees for the data about form (horse racing jargon for data about the riders and their horses). Go Racing is a consortium of Arena Leisure, BSkyB and Channel 4. NTL and the BBC have the option of joining. Go Racing has an ambitious target of generating an annual global turnover of £2.5bn by 2010, including a 23% share of the UK domestic horse-racing betting generating £1.8bn of the whole turnover. Besides showing UK races at home, it will show races from abroad as well as showing UK races overseas. World horse-racing is estimated to be worth $100bn (£703bn). Their main rival will be the established betting shop and the challenge will be to get punters (jargon for those people betting) to bet from home rather than in the social arena of the betting shop.
BSkyB and the Hilton Group have joined forces to establish betting service on BSkyB's 5 sports channels and internet sites. Hiltons will transfer its Vernon Pools business to the new venture while its the betting shops chain Ladbrokes will be involved in promoting the service. BSkyB will contribute its Surrey Sports betting operation. This already provides interactive betting and has generated revenues of £55m in nine months. On completion Ladbrokes will pay BSkyB £30m and then ongoing commission on bets placed according to volumes and profitability. The service will operate under the Vernon name for pools betting and under the Ladbrokes name for fixed-odds betting. The Office of Fair Trading needs to approve the deal. Long term BSkyB aims to generate £50 p.a. from each subscriber by 2005.
Like the Internet, health is becoming a major topic on digital television (see services and other media). In August 2000 the UK Department of Health (DoH) was in talks with a number of media companies to explore how interactive TV could be used to deliver health information and patient services. The National Health Service (NHS) already has NHS Direct (a telephone based help line) and NHS Direct Online (a web based service). These services could be combined with interactive services, providing both information and video links from the call centres, combined with two-way telephone link, for one-to-one advice. The DoH will issue £5m tender for pilots to run for between 3 and 12 months from December 2000. Other interactive services envisage include ordering repeat prescriptions, making doctor's appointments and maybe individual consultations and diagnosis.
However, the proposals are unlikely to get the support of the British Medical Association. It recently called the government to halt the expansion of NHS Direct because of apparent poor quality advice. the BMA said that these online services lowered the patient's threshold to seek advice and more information made patients more worried. Similarly the General Medical Council is opposed to online consultations except in special circumstances such as an emergency or where the patient is known to the doctor.
In October 2000 Granada Media and the Boots health care chain set up a joint health and beauty channel to be available via cable and satellite interactive TV and the internet. The new company will be 60% owned by Boots and the total investment will be £50m over 4 years. Granada will provide 12 hours of original programming and the there will be cross links to a web site. The web site will offer e-commerce facilities, chat rooms and more in-depth information to support the TV programmes. Through interactive TV viewers will be prompted to click through to the web site. Advertising and sponsorship will bring in additional revenue with Boots aiming to generate around 2% of its current UK sales from the venture. Versions of the web content will also be developed for mobile phones and PDAs.
The Government is planning up to 10 digital TV channels devoted to the popular GCSE examination subjects (these are taken at aged 16 years). Testing in 30 schools is due to commence in 2000 with a £4m pilot being developed by Anglia Multimedia and Granada Media with Government funding.
Granada is also developing a range of channels for ordinary citizens and for professionals. Result is a curriculum-based channel to help children with their GCSE courses. It has been developed with IBM. Citizen TV aims to provide advice, government information (which will eventually allow on-line interaction with government departments, for example to submit a tax form), and and citizenship (which aims to encourage debate and contact with political representatives).
SkyDigital's Open offers up to 8 e-mail address per household with the email service being provided by BT's Talk21. Open does not offer Internet access arguing that many viewers are concerned with the content available on the internet as well as it being a more complex medium to use. It believes many consumers, especially families, will be attracted to a separate information service (known as a Walled Garden).
ITV Digital is planning to provide e-mail access to the internet later in 1999. Its advanced teletext system should also roll out about the same time or early 2000.
Cable and Wireless Communications, one of the 3 major cable companies, is offering full and free internet access. A pilot system in Manchester is being rolled out nation wide.
NTL provides internet services to 200,000 cable TV subscribers through its joint venture with Virgin Net. In January 1999 it announced a £15 a month service called TV-Internet offering e-mail, internet and telephony via a set-top box. It is aiming for 1m customers by the end of 2001, most of whom will access via Web-TV rather than a PC.
Auctions: Last August the Living Channel, broadcasting on satellite and cable, had 120 people bidding from their homes for pop memorabilia. Whilst an experiment, it points the way to the future. The Auction Channel has plans for 3 television auctions a day plus 10 on the internet.
Services Seeking & Matching: Interactive
services provide a means to match people with jobs, items for sale or wanted,
services wanted or for hire, dating / marriage partners, etc.. Many
commentators predict that local and regional newspapers will be particularly
hit by these services.
[Provider's Interactive Services] [Home Shopping] [Home Banking and other Financial Services]
Examples of Interactive Services
See part 1 for the resource list prior to August 2000.
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