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Interactive television

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Digital TV set-top box

Interactive television is a form of media convergence, adding data services to traditional television technology. It has included on-demand delivery of content, online shopping, and viewer polls. Interactive TV is an example of how new information technology can be integrated vertically into established technologies and commercial structures.[1]


Prior to the development of interactive television, interaction could only be simulated. In the 1950s, there were limited efforts to provide an illusion of interactive experience, most overtly with Winky Dink and You, which encouraged viewers to draw on a vinyl sheet they would attach to a television set.[2] QUBE operated an interactive cable television service in Ohio from 1977 to 1984.[3]

An interactive video-on-demand (VOD) television service was proposed in 1986 in Japan, where there were plans to develop an "Integrated Network System" service. It was intended to include various interactive services, including videotelephony, home shopping, online banking, remote work, and home entertainment services. However, it was not possible to practically implement such an interactive VOD service until the adoption of DCT and ADSL technologies made it possible in the 1990s. In early 1994, British Telecommunications (BT) began testing an interactive VOD television trial service in the United Kingdom. It used the DCT-based MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video compression standards, along with ADSL technology.[4]

Sega Channel, a service that allowed Sega Genesis owners to download video games on demand via cable television signals, began rolling out in the United States in 1994 and was discontinued in 1998. It has been described as a form of interactive television.[5]

The first patent of interactive connected TV was granted in 1999 in the United States; it expired in 2015.[6]

ATSC 3.0, also known as "NextGen TV", adds interactivity features to terrestrial television. As of April 2022, broadcasters in 60 media markets in the United States were using ATSC 3.0.[7]

Forms of interaction[edit]

Interactive TV includes programs that directly incorporate polls, questions, comments, and other forms of audience response back into the show. For example, Australian media producer Yahoo!7's Fango mobile app allows viewers to provide material that producers can insert into live programming. During the 2012 Australian Open, viewers used the app to suggest questions for commentator Jim Courier to ask players in post-match interviews.[8]

"One-screen" formats involve interaction on the TV screen, using the remote control. Remote-control user interfaces are known in human-computer interaction research as "lean back" interaction,[9] and as a 10-foot user interface.[10] Second screen interactive TV, also called Enhanced TV by ABC and ESPN, uses a personal computer or mobile application.[11] Chat Television, developed in 1996, was the first example of a second screen interactive TV format. The system synchronized online services with television broadcasts, grouping users by time zone and program, so that all real-time viewers could participate in a chat or interactive gathering during the show's airing.[12]

Interactive TV features in smart TVs have drawn criticism because they allow TV manufacturers to collect and transmit data about customer behavior for the purposes of targeted advertising.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kim, Pyungho (1999). "A Story Of Failed Technology: Deconstructing Interactive TV Networks". Javnost-The Public. 6 (3): 87. doi:10.1080/13183222.1999.11008720.
  2. ^ Bob Greene (March 31, 2013). "Winky Dink and ... Bill Gates?". CNN. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Rogers, Everett M. Communication Technology: The New Media in Society. New York: Free Press, 1986, p. 63.
  4. ^ Lea, William (9 May 1994). Video on demand: Research Paper 94/68. House of Commons Library. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  5. ^ Rossen, Jake (March 24, 2022). "When '90s Gamers Tuned into the Sega Channel". Mental Floss. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  6. ^ "Espacenet - Bibliographic data". Archived from the original on 2015-09-04.
  7. ^ Schelle, Anne (April 25, 2022). "NextGen TV spurs a renaissance of interactive television—how broadcasters can gain from it". NewscastStudio. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  8. ^ Kennedy, Jessica (10 February 2012). "Social TV on the rise". B&T Online. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  9. ^ Dewdney, Andrew (2006). The Digital Media Handbook. Routledge. pp. 289. ISBN 9780203645789.
  10. ^ Kunert, Tibor. "User-Centered Interaction Design Patterns for Interactive Digital Television Applications". Springer. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  11. ^ "Prediction: NanoGaming Will Replace Nielsen". Madisonavenuejournal.com. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  12. ^ Moncreiff, Craig T. (Oct 27, 1998). "Computer network chat room based on channel broadcast in real time". Google.com. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  13. ^ Lobato, Ramon; Scarlata, Alexa (September 5, 2022). "Smart TVs are watching what you watch and selling your data to advertisers". Choice. Retrieved September 18, 2022.