The results of a new study released Friday by Statistical Research Inc. (SRI) do not bode well for the immediate future of what is loosely called ‘interactive TV’ or iTV in the United States.
On the broadest level, the study revealed that consumers have little or no interest in many of the features of interactive television currently available or in development. These features include interactive Internet links, TV-based Internet, email, interactive chat, interactive games and other interactive Net-based features. Consumers did display some interest in what are called interactive programming guides (IPGs) which effectively give users more control over what and when they watch.
Specifically, SRI drew from its Home Technology Monitor sample group of 3000 U.S. residents and selected 142 homes that actually have iTV and 59 homes without iTV. The results showed that 72 percent of respondents said they were not interested in interacting with television programs. In fact, even in homes that have iTV, respondents said they rarely or never use its features.
One of the surprising results culled from this data was that homes that already had iTV in place had the same lack of interest in the technology as homes without it. SRI stated that this contradicts conventional wisdom, which says that exposure to the medium creates interest.
SRI stated that in homes with iTV, it surveyed the person most familiar with the services. In non-iTV households, it surveyed the person most likely to be in charge of making such decisions regarding technology in the home.
The conclusion drawn from this study by SRI was that in general, people use TV to relax and are not interested at this time in adding aspects that require activity.
Aspects of iTV that were of interest to consumers included interactive program guides (IPGs), video on demand (VOD), and personal video recorders (PVRs). Clearly though, these are not interactive in the interpersonal sense of what the Internet has to offer. Respondents appreciated IPGs simply because of the greater degree of control offered in terms of deciding when to watch exactly what they liked. A full 53 percent of those with access to IPGs said they channel surf less than they used to. And 75 percent said they use TV Guide less and 82 percent said they used TV listings in newspapers less.
SRI stated that attitudes towards iTV could change as population demographics shift and the generation of people who grew up using the Internet ages.
One interesting note was that the whole notion of iTV is quite complex from the advertisers standpoint since their interest is served by viewers refraining from doing other activities while viewing.
Matt Peretz is senior editor of AllNetDevices
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