TV Research Says Television Will Deliver The Next Wave Of Killer Apps - Social TV, tCommerce, and More Consumer Applications

written by: Richard Kastelein

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FourthWall Media, the cable-centric company that claims to be driving a creative revolution in American interactive television through advanced advertising, consumer applications and the technology platform on which they run, recently announced the results of an American poll* that demonstrates overwhelming consumer demand for an interactive TV viewing experience.

Television is the most popular device in the home, and with the addition of interactivity, it's serving up the next wave of killer apps according reveals to FourthWall Media's recent research that indicates consumers are ready for their TV to do more, and are open to seeing the Web integrate with their televisions on the big screen in the living room. In the report they showed resounding interest in using their remote to submit "American Idol" votes, check personalized financial, weather and fantasy sports information, and keep tabs on their eBay bids.

"This survey reveals that TV watchers — men, women, young, old — from all across the country are excited about interactive television," said Ellen Dudar, FourthWall Media chief product officer and co-founder. "Viewers spend vastly more leisure time in front of their televisions than their computer screens, and they want one-click engagement with their favorite programs, movies, and even commercials.  Apps that deliver immersive experiences and increased convenience to satisfy this consumer appetite are the next killer apps."

FourthWallMedia is one of the largest USA players in the EBIF cable scene - working with Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF)/OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP)/Tru2way landscape - formats developed under the OpenCable project of CableLabs (Cable Television Laboratories, Inc.).

And they are not very big fans of Google TV... with their brass having penned a white paper called Google TV: Why It Will Fail - and has contributed to more critical spin in the press. However, that's understandable, as Google TV and Connected TV in general are a serious threat to Cable and PayTV operators - mainly because the wall is in the garden is higher - and they are not committed to Open Standards to encourage partners to jump aboard and start developing.

EBIF is an American-only format - European Pay TV operators tend to use MHP (Multimedia Home Platform) - which also happens to be making inroads in the USA with Vivendi having a crack with MHP in the American market in a deal with EchoStar Communications Corp, second largest satellite provider in the United States. For more information on Cable standards read below.

But knuckling down to the positive research - which is great news for all in the in the Interactive, Social, Smart and Connected TV landscapes, include:

  • Nearly 90 percent of TV watchers are interested in using interactive television applications.
  • Three times as many respondents would prefer to use their remote over another device to cast a vote on reality shows like "American Idol."
  • Over 70% of respondents indicated that they would be more interested in watching commercials if they were interactive.
  • Nearly a third of respondents indicated they would spend less time on their computers if interactive television applications were available to them.


  • 9 in 10 (89%) TV watchers expressed interest in using interactive television applications on their home televisions after reading descriptions of these services, with half (48%) saying they are "very interested."  "It would give me control over the TV & when certain things came to mind that I needed to check on I could do it right from my TV". - Tina Aguilar, 30-44 Female
  • Two-thirds (66%) of TV watchers, including 72 percent of females and 74 percent of those 13 to 20 years old, agree they would change the way they watch TV programming if they had access to interactive television applications. For example, 34 percent say they would watch more television than they currently do if they had access to interactive applications.  Teens and heavy TV viewers (those who watch 7 or more hours a day) are especially likely to increase their TV viewing (42%). In all, 3 out of 4 (76%) say that they would use these applications at least a few times a week, with over 4 in 10 (44%) saying they would use interactive TV applications on a daily basis.
  • 61 percent of TV viewers would prefer to submit votes for reality shows such as "American Idol" by using their standard remote control.  The next closest device came in at 21 percent.
  • When given the option of looking up the phone number of a restaurant to make a dinnerreservation, the Yellow Pages on TV app was selected by 37 percent of respondents, compared to 34 percent who preferred going online. Mobile search and the Yellow Pages book itself followed. Remarkably, using the Yellow Pages on TV application, to quickly find a merchant's phone number beat all the options
  • Women, especially those over 30, are among those most interested in these types of interactive applications. Women are also more likely to "strongly agree" that these applications make television watching more convenient (57%) and personalized (59%).  
  • Not surprisingly, TV watchers responded most favorably to applications that provide a high level of convenience and personalized relevance. TV watchers were most interested in a weather application (52% very interested), followed by an application providing local news and information (47% very interested) and caller ID (44% very interested).  Additionally, 8 in 10 TV watchers say they would be interested in personalized news, sports scores, and financial information.  
  • Another 3 in 4 (73%) say they would be interested in an application that allows them to request additional information about a company or product after watching a commercial. In the era where using DVRs has made fast-forwarding through commercials commonplace, this is an important finding regarding the value of interactive ads.  Women, in particular, express strong desire in interacting more with the TV advertisements they see. As Pamela Booker from Oklahoma puts it, "Having more information about a program or commercial at my fingertips instantly would definitely make me more interested in watching television."  And Martin Niemczewski says, "With a press of a button being able to view information or order the product would be a great feature to have."
  • In an effort to compensate for the lack of interaction and personalization provided by traditional TV, it is not surprising that 8 in 10 (82%) TV watchers say that they watch television and surf the Internet at the same time.  While television remains the go-to device for video consumption, home computers are augmenting, and in the process challenging television.  
  • Of the 82 percent of TV viewers who say they surf the Internet on their computers while also watching TV, a third (31%) say they would spend less time multitasking with their computers if they had these applications on TV.  Respondents said they often go online to research things they see on TV. Mark Sapolis (45-65 Male) said: "A lot of the information I look up daily on the computer could now be looked up on the TV.  I also like the idea of having news I want to see at my fingertips. I would say it would change the way I watch TV."
  • 81 percent of respondents indicate they want their TVs to do more.  Compared to home computers, the television has been slow to adapt to peoples' changing lives, with only 20 percent feeling their television is "personalized" to their own needs and tastes (vs. 81% for computers).  "Interactive television would allow me to get more out of my television and make me more interested in watching the programs that are on." - Timothy Motley, (21-29 Male)

"Television remains a powerful part of the fabric of American life.  But it has been slow to incorporate interactivity at scale," said Ellen Dudar.  "Until recently, there wasn't broad adoption of a common language and platform for cable systems to launch advanced services.  Now, thanks to the work of the cable industry, Americans will begin harnessing the power of their TV like never before.  It's the perfect storm of consumer behavior aligning with the launch of a ubiquitous platform."

*Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), a member of Young & Rubicam Brands and of the WPP Group, is a global research-based consultancy that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip political, corporate and entertainment clients.  On April 28, 2010, Penn Schoen & Berland conducted 500 online interviews among TV watchers 13-65 years old.  The margin of error for the study is +/- 4.38% at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups.

On January 8, 2008 Cable Labs announced the Tru2Way brand for the OpenCable platform, including OCAP as the application platform which is based on the European MHP standard - a standard defined by the Digital Video Broadcasting DVB project.

The Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and European Broadcasting Union (EBU) set the standards. DVB systems distribute data using a variety of approaches, including: satellite: DVB-S, DVB-S2 and DVB-SH, DVB-SMATV for distribution via SMATV, cable: DVB-C, DVB-C2, terrestrial television: DVB-T, DVB-T2, digital terrestrial television for handhelds: DVB-H, DVB-SH as well as microwave: using DTT (DVB-MT), the MMDS (DVB-MC), and/or MVDS standards (DVB-MS)

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