Interactive TV Dictionary and Business Index
Online Interactive Television Dictionary

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Enhanced TV (eTV)
(Last updated in 2012)

Enhanced TV
(ETV, eTV) -  The term "Enhanced TV" is thought to have been officially introduced by NCI (which later became the former Liberate Technologies) in 1997.

A more technical way to describe Enhanced TV is: the mixing (embedding) of various interactive functions with the television (video) program. This mixed signal is sent to viewers via standard television transmission methods (including the VBI) and/or telephone lines. Viewers with the aid of some sort of decoder (receiver, set-top box, tuner card, etc.) can view and choose to explore these additional features (elements) embedded in the picture.

Often to enjoy Enhanced TV, you can use your TV's enabled set-top box (or equivalent device) or use a PC with a TV tuner card.

Various Interpretations of Enhanced TV

(1)  In "earlier" times it wasn't unusual for a broadcaster to use the term "Enhanced TV" when only offering additional episodes of a show via pay per view. As offering additional episodes was not the standard linear TV of the day, they were known to have marketed it as "enhanced" programming. In the past, even Personal TV (using DVRs) was at times referred to as "Enhanced TV".

(2) Many tell us that the difference between eTV and Interactive TV is that eTV's interactive features are available only during the scheduled program. Once the program is over, in theory the interactivity should no longer available. "Interactive Television's" interactivity on the other hand is available whether the program is airing or not and may not even be associated with a specific TV program.

(3) Another school of thought makes "Interactive Television" synonymous with "Enhanced TV". To understand this version of Enhanced TV better see "Interactive Television."

(4) When a particular program offers additional resources for viewers to better understand its content, most often via their computer, Web TV or mobile device. However this view asserts that Enhanced TV does not directly include a return path (back channel) for viewers to interact with others. Thus chatting with others who are also watching the show would be impossible, unless of course another channel for communication was used, such as an Internet chatroom. They can however interact with the programming by perhaps accessing additional information about the show, characters, sets and/or products/services used. They might also be able to vote about some aspect of the program as well as enter contests and more.

(5) There are those who consider Enhanced TV to be any new service that cannot be delivered with just a regular TV.

(6)  Enhanced TV can mean TV (video) programming that is meant to be viewed along with another form of media such as a CD or DVD.

(7) Standards for Enhanced Television (Interactive Television applications) that have been developed by CableLabs for cable providers.

(8)  In the past, due to negative publicity generated by certain failed Interactive Television deployments, primarily in the States, certain network operators offering Interactive TV decided against using the term "Interactive TV", opting instead to call it the supposedly safer term "Enhanced TV."

PC-based Enhanced TV - See Web TV for Windows and 2-screen Interactive TV.

Various Related Terms