Defining Interactive Television

October 14th, 2009 - Park Associates projects that by 2014, U.S. addressable, interactive TV advertising revenue will exceed $4 billion.

October, 2009 - The CEO of Comcast said in a recent earnings call that 25 million U.S. cable-enabled homes will have access to interactive TV by the end of 2009. Combine this with the 30 million satellite and IPTV subscribers who already receive interactive TV and there are 55 million households that will be able to access  interactive TV {by the end of 2009}. (Reference)

Interactive Television - (May also be known as: ITV, iTV, i-TV, ETV, eTV, Enhanced Television, Enhanced TV, Transactional Television, Fully Interactive TV, Interactive Digital Television, Interactive TV, Synchronous Programming, Digital Interactive TV/Broadband IP Convergence, Interactive Cable, Interactive Video, Enriched TV, Enhanced Broadcasting, Advanced Interactive TV, TVs with Interactive Programming, Total ITV, Fully Interactive Television, Fully Interactive TV, Advanced TV, Multiplexed TV viewing, Full-service Integrated Interactive TV, Customized, Individualized or Personalized TV {used more often in Europe;} Real-time Companion Programming, ActiveTV.  Looser but at least substantial association with: Web TV, WEB Enhanced TV, Internet TV, Internet Television, Interactive Mobile TV, Individualized Viewing, Net TV, Online TV, Internet on TV, Web-over Television Services, Web-accessed TV, TeleWeb, TV-based Web Browsing, TV Based Browsing, TV Internet System, TV Internet Access Device, Web-over-TV, TV Mail, Web Enhanced TV, Internet Protocol Multicasting, IP Multicast, BusinessTV, Videoconferencing {videophone}, Web PCs, Web Phones, Phone-based Web Boxes, Set-top Browsers, Public Access Internet T, Internet HDTV, IP-based Interactive TV Applications.)


The abbreviation "ITV" is more prevalent in the States where the abbreviation "iTV" is more prevalent in the rest of the world. One reason is because "ITV" is already an abbreviation for Britain's large commercial broadcaster  It's possible that the abbreviation "iTV" will be used more often for Interactive TV and the abbreviation "ITV" will be used more often for Internet TV (Broadband TV). Time will tell. Both abbreviations continue to be used interchangeably and many use the abbreviation "ITV" for Interactive Television.

Note, there can be differences between Enhanced TV and Interactive TV. Also note that IPTV can offer great interactive TV but it is not a synonym for Interactive TV.


Web-enabled TV Widgets (Web-enabled Downloadable Applications) - Web-enabled TV Widgets are small, self-contained programs that can be plugged into a web application. They're quite popular and could be taking the interactive TV world by storm.  See this videoclip for a demo.


(1) This first general definition of Interactive TV is for those who define Interactive Television as the top level umbrella definition for all types of interactivity involving televisions, as well as television programming viewed using other interactive mediums, such as the mobile phone and PC. (Note that the web is interactive thus when interactive features are available on a website offering video, technically that's interactive television.) Thus Video on Demand (VOD) would be a subset of Interactive Television and because of that VOD could be entitled either Video on Demand and/or Interactive TelevisionThe same is true of Internet TV (Broadband TV), Personal TV, etc.

For interactivity, interactive voice response (IVR) and/or Point and Click Devices  may be used instead of, or in addition to your remote control/keypad.

Interactive Television is TV programming with interactive content and/or enhancements. Interactive TV provides a richer and more efficient television experience. It can combine Traditional TV viewing with a back channel, thus offering the interactivity enjoyed by those communicating through a network, such as the Internet. Interactive TV programming can include interactive advertising, electronic storefronts, electronic communication with others, richer graphics and links to Web (or web-like) sites such as walled gardens. With developments including the incorporation of a digital TV infrastructure, increased broadband resources, better video compression, increased use of Digital Video Recorders, Video-on-Demand, Electronic Program Guides, etc., interactive TV will continue to become more commonplace. Interactive TV’s future looks great as research conclusively shows that people want additional information and enhancements pertaining to TV programming. Also telcos need to better compete with cable providers who are now offering bundled telephone, TV and Internet service. Interactive IPTV can offer a great deal of interactivity at little extra cost.

General types of Interactive Television:

(1) 2-screen Interactive TV where you interact with the TV programming on a "screen" other than the TV. So you'd be watching the television but interacting using personal computers, media centers, phone (or other electronic devices such as PDAs). Text messaging is very popular when the phone is used.

(2) Single-screen Interactive TV  - When the program’s interactive enhancements are accessible using your set-top box, TV system etc.

(3) Internet TV (Broadband TV) - (Interactive Television over the Internet) - The Internet/web is inherently interactive and as long as interactive television in the United States and elsewhere is hampered by incompatible delivery systems and/or receivers, Interactive Television over the Internet has become attractive.

Things you can do with Interactive TV include:
    1. The program credits could be available anytime during the show instead of only at the beginning and/or end.
    2. At anytime find out who an actor/actress is that you're watching and more information about him/her.
    3. At anytime find out the location of a particular scene and information on how it was filmed.
    4. Get scores, highlights and game summaries whenever you want.
    5. Customized and localized information (such as news, weather and sports).
    6. While viewing one program, you can keep abreast of specifics of other TV program(s), including sports.
    7. Home banking.
    8. Home shopping.
    9. Electronic Program Guides/Interactive Program Guides
    10. Polls/Surveys – Make your vote count during a program (or after) without having to pay for a toll call or log onto a special computer.
    11. Interactive Game Shows – Play along and/or compete with others.
    12. Interactive Sports (which can include the ability to watch an event from your choice of camera angles.) You may also have the choice of different audio tracks.
    13. Local/regional/national weather and traffic.
    14. Interactive advertising, infomercials, advergaming.
    15. Videoconferencing.
    16. Distance learning.
    17. Interactive betting.
    18. Answer trivia questions in real time during a TV show – Prove your knowledge and win prizes by answering questions correctly.
    19. Ability to switch camera angles. (Interactive Multi-Camera-Angle Events, this is most popular for sports).
    20. Interactive video magazines
    21. Interactive music selection
    22. Instant Messaging
    23. Email
    24. Other Trivia Games
    25. Interactive Betting
    26. Instant Shopping – When you see a product or service you want, buy it or order it immediately.
           * Movie tickets
           * Pizza from a commercial
           * CDs from talk shows and concerts
           * Author interviews

Acquire additional information such as:

           * Retail locations 
           * Details on a news story
           * Order a brochure or sample.

         27. Cast interviews
         28. Episode Guides

 Also see Enhanced TV & Teletext


(2) (Maybe known as Interactive Video) - Many consider “Interactive Television” not to be an umbrella term for all interactivity using the Television, but instead just one of many different ways of experiencing interactivity via a television.  Thus, Interactive Television would be a separate subset, while Timeshifting (Personal TV) would be a separate subset (and thus not called Interactive Television,) as would be the case with Internet TV, Video-on-Demand, etc. This definition is more literal and often used.

interactive applications Click here for Interactive TV related Standards & Specifications

interactive applications Click here for the history of Interactive Television

interactive applications Click here for a business index for the Interactive Television industry

interactive platforms Interactive Television Further Defined

  A communication theory called the Effects Theory proposes that viewers are passive and television directs them.  Some question how many viewers will want to do nothing more than change channels and program their VCR/DVR. But after experiencing the fuller iTV experience, most change their minds. Interactive TV is simply a much more efficient way to watch TV, and it offers so much more. 
   Many expect television's longer term future to be Internet TV and the countless millions of channels it could offer, including people's own personal channels. Imagine, you want to watch a particular actor/actress, or a type of programming theme, lets say car crashes, you enter that into your video search engine and it comes up with shows and/or video clips concerning that subject. Probably you would have already pre-programmed your Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or computer to have searched for and recorded on it's hard drive, that particular type of programming. Your DVR or computer could of course check regularly, automatically seeing if any new related programming is available, recording it and alerting you. With the convergence of broadband and a mandated digital TV infrastructure, the possibilities are extreme.
   The television is more associated with relaxed viewing (sitting-back" or "leaning back) while the PC is more associated with working, ("sitting-up" or "leaning forward). The argument is that most would rather sit back in a comfortable chair and watch video on a television screen rather than watch video on any other electronic device including a PC. Also watching a television can be more of a social event, a better homogenizer for couples and the home. Many electronic devices aid in transferring content from the Internet to the TV. See Media Extenders.
  While many in the States are unclear as to what Interactive Television is, in a good deal of Europe, folks have had interactive TV for some time, much of that previously having been in the form of Teletext. This is one reason that Europe, particularly Great Britain, has adopted Interactive Television faster than the States. Still Americans may be surprised at how much Interactive TV is already available and how much more is on the horizon. (See below for examples of Interactive TV and further below for related articles.)
  Current and future iTV in your area will include Electronic Program Guides, Web-page-style screens, Electronic Storefronts, Information Tickers, Walled Gardens, Polls, Interactive Advertising and more.  (Sports is the most popular interactive television venue.)

More reference information on interactive TV Click here for a lot more reference information on interactive TV

Various Related Terms
(Many more are in the main Interactive Television dictionary)

2-Screen iTV
Access Control System
Ad Contest
Advanced Set-top Boxes
Application Bar
Appointment-based TV
Authoring Tools
Back Channel
Broadband TV
Button Bar
CableLabs Certified™ Cable Modem Project
Channel Enhancement
Consumer Direct (CD) Channels
DVB-MHP Platform
Enhancement Author
Fully Interactive TV
Full Service Network
Hot Spots
Interactive Applications
Interactive Channel
Interactive Channel The
Interactive Digital Television
Interactive Digital Terrestrial TV
Interactive Local TV News Service
Interactive Mobile TV
Interactive Radio
Interactive Television Program
Interactive Television Service
Interactive Tool Bar
iTV (Television) Developers
Interactive Video
Internet-enabled TVs
Internet TV

iTV Application
iTV Authoring Tools
iTV Awards
iTV Backchannel
iTV-based Retail
iTV Banking
iTV Betting
iTV Branding
iTV Caller-ID Functionality
iTV Developer
iTV-enabled Advertising Campaign
iTV-enabled Commercials
iTV-enabled Programming
iTV-enabled "Triple-play"
iTV enabled Set-top Box
iTV-enhanced SVOD
iTV-enhanced VOD
iTV Game Show Participation
iTV Gaming
iTV Hospitality Provider
iTV Information-acquisition Features
iTV Infrastructure Specialists
iTV Network
iTV Performance Lab
iTV Programming
iTV Quizzes
iTV Return-path
iTV Services for Wireless Devices
iTV Software Developer's Kit
iTV Standards
iTV Toolkit
iTV Voting
IVR-based interactive TV
Linear TV
Mobile-phone iTV Applications
Network Operator
OCAP Participation
Participation TV
Red-button iTV Services
Return Path
Satellite iTV
Single-screen ITV
Smart Cards
Telco TV
Terrestrial TV
Text Link
Time-and-channel-based TV
TV Standard
Two-way Advertising
User-guided Entertainment
Value-added Services
Viewer Created iTV Content
Walled Garden-based iTV Services
"Winky Dink and You"