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  1. iTV, a retrospective view to the future James Stewart University of Edinburgh

  2. iTV - the technology for everyone? • A brief history • The construction of interactive television: the system, the audience, the content. • Myth of ‘interactive media for the masses’. • iTV, the poor relation in the new technology world • Engagement, utility and making better television • Future trends and possibilities: • Mobile integration and megachannel TV

  3. iTV96- the superhighway through the home? • Bring the experiences of the worldwide $1bn trials into a public arena. • Get academics from media studies, sociology etc to reflect on changing place of television in home • Examine implications for broadcasters, advertisers etc. • Usability experts and interactive film makers meet systems engineers, and telco managers. • Riding high on idea of convergence. • Centralised systems; internet for the masses vision

  4. iTV96 • Many ideas that are still basis of today’s products, and analysis • All sorts of iTV discussed: • Interactive drama • Web access (broadcast on analogue cable TV networks WorldGate) • Local information - butcher online • Set-top games • Interactive education material • Video on demand • Live TV • Main question: would the TV be the place that the ‘information superhighway came into the home? • Answer today: NO, not yet anyway.

  5. Some history • QUBE trials early 70s • Videotext in Europe. • Driven by State owned PTTs, vision :bring networked databases to the masses. • Centralised, information based system • Teletext the success story • Teletel/Minitel French exception • TV, telephone or PC the home screen? • Utility the driving idea • Communication and engagement caught the imagination when allowed - 3615 CUM

  6. 80s Extended TV • In contrast to server-side, network dependent vision of interactive • The consumer electronic industry develops • Home computer • Games console • Make the television set interactive • VCR - consumers control over television schedules, • alternative pre-packed content delivery method • Broadcasters: introduce Multi-channel TV • End users: create Multi- TV households

  7. Early 90s Big iTV • Big telcoms and cable operators network firms had another go • Commerically rather than policy driven. • Centralised, information based systems electronic service delivery • Bring what was coming to workplace in terms of networked data to mass market again. Ideas of home, women as key market • Video on demand. • Walled garden • Enrolled other firms – banks, power companies etc in closed consortia • Full duplex interactive cable systems

  8. Big iTV • Technically difficult, expensive, and realised that they just did not have the content which was much more expensive. No incentive for content makers to develop • Propriety systems,no common authoring, broadcasting or interaction standards • PC and internet destroyed model, mobile networks took investment. • White elephants, but lots of ideas in people’s heads

  9. Digital TV project • Political goal of spectrum reallocation, industry support and interactive multimedia’ for the masses’. • New generation of products for consumer electronics companies total renewal of world TV equipment stock, and re-establishing higher margins in highly competitive market. • How to bring aspects of internet to everyone – TV is poor man’s entertainment. Idea of mass market consumer as ‘idiot’, design for ease of use, filtered content etc where internet appears out of control. • Broadcasters saw threat of internet and gaming – want to offer consumers something more. • Competitive but with important Standardisation Process • DVB - state broadcasters and major technology firms

  10. Digital TV 2 • Reasonable computing power to set top box finally possible • Cross media, and mixed media ideas. Add value to expensive sporting and movie content. • TV- centred with some Some back channel • Interactivity a selling point, increases in symbolic importance as internet takes off. • Multiple interactive TV platforms, competing models of information access. • Adoption by direct broadcast and cable firms selling to producers and audience alike. Direct broadcast business still risky but successful compared to cable, partly due to much lower costs of reaching market. • Multiple suppliers- small number ofcorporate customers for equipment. • Driven by sport and movie subscriptions.

  11. Engagement + Utility • Engagement: subjective appeal, emotional response to media,aesthetics: ‘creative’ products, relationship building: games, drama, sport, comedy, gambling etc. individual specific, and subject to learning and fashion. • Contrary of utility : usefulness, efficiency, productivity, associated with work, usability etc: work, databases, information access, ease of use. Minimum learning often the goal. • Broadcasting traditionally provides and engaging experience, not a ‘useful’ service. Cf. Networked computing

  12. Interactivity in broadcast media • Long history of engaging audience directly • Key part of media rather than just re-broadcasting other media. Often involves commenting on such rebroadcasts: music, sport etc. • Phone ins, write ins, polls, surveys: allow people to express views on the world. • ‘15 mins of fame effect’ - people love to appear on TV! • Music: chart shows, request shows. cheap • Game shows : pretend play at home

  13. Interactivity into 21st century • Computer based channels. Phone, internet or texting audience selects broadcast of prerecorded video and music clips, or live computer output. • Reality TV shows - next level of audience participation • Traditionally: to sell advertising, get ratings, or sell PPV • Now texting and premium lines and online payment- make money from interaction, alternative revenue stream. • Multi- media, cross media production chosen by programme makers, producers, broadcasts as a way of keeping audience and multiplying revenues.

  14. Audiences • Why do we watch TV , and how de we watch TV, • TV to unwind, relax, waste time, fill time • TV for entertainment, leisure • Bring outside world into home • Background noise, • iTV Myth – “TV lie back, PC lean forward”. • Web made PC lie back. • TV used to show highly engaging creations, rebroadcast of sport very much a lea- forward application. • Need a more sophisticated model of engagement. • Social in the traditional model – but many people watch alone. • To be together • To be apart, avoid conversation • Up to 50% of people in major cities nowlive alone • Shared - negociate different time, use, content does not matter. • TV is cheap entertainment, and flexible: used as a substitute for unaffordable or inaccessible alternatives.

  15. Audiences • Changing place of TV and other techs. Increased diversity of use. People create own patterns of mixed media use. • No longer mass market of 70s and 80s. 50% of pop have multi-channel, rest not interested. 50 % have internet, rest not interest. Mixing media. Radio still very popular as is reading in this country. People will by preference do something else. • People like to create as much as consume – • Big sellers are digital cameras and video. Home Pcs, communication , email, mobile phone • These are applications that attract and inspire. • Television makes use of this creation: e.g. children send in paintings, send texts people design gaming characters, play online and get to play them live on TV etc.

  16. 1996 to Today • Technical change astonishing, and rapid adoption of new technologies • Computer hardware, Home networking, Digital cameras, Digital TV, DVD, Laptops • ReplayTV/Tivo/Sky+etc – Personal or Digital Video Recorders – hard disk and networked • Mobile phones • All demands on pockets of consumer • Interactive TV poor relation: consumers spent on other technologies that offer similar services. Interactive TV has struggled to find its niche • EPG, near TV on demand, ‘enhanced’ television, simple gaming. • But making some money.

  17. Current situation • TV part of wider home AV +computing – domestic production on increase. • Info-TV model struggles to survive • Interaction model – with games, with programme makers, with computer driven channels etc slowly establishing itself. • Still far from the entire market – many people not touched: • PC has reached out to many more people than the TV. Disabilities, children etc, older people etc. TV cheap mass market product . Interface poorer than PC or mobile phone. Extreme conservatism. People don’t want too much evolution in basic operations.Controlled by a few broadcasters, many with little money. • Governments dream of iTV as way to deliver government services “to the rest of us”. • Myth that interactiveTV is the platform to reach ‘the rest of them/us’

  18. My Vision: New Television • Creating new television: mega channel TV. • Integrate bandwidth with PVR power • Producers can use as much bandwidth, the computing and storage capabilities of home networks, media production capabilities of audience, with-out thinking about it. • Extend production facilities – video mobile. Richness of edited broadcast. • Real television!

  19. TV goes mobile and personal • Mobile device interface now receiving more attention than digital TV but share characteristics I.e. non-PC. Act to force standards development. • Closer integration of local and wide area networks (3G, GSM, WLAN, DVB, DAB WMAN, 4G) -> TV on mobile, DVB-X etc • A personal interactive communicative platform - change thinking, PC was info platform, now mobile or portable device integrates info, communication and entertainment

  20. Personal TV • Individual, Portable ‘TV’: iPod as new TV: contains receiver, recorder, personal subscription and authentication for broadcast, payment, music, gaming and, telecommunications services. • Undermines home network concept: carry about own television.- real PVR • Personal interaction – in family, across public and private spaces. Multiple wireless networks.

  21. Myth of iTV • iTV should be focused at specific markets, and not seen as the interactive technology for the rest of us. • That might come in time. • The world has changed since the 1970s!