Three Cable Networks to Adopt Interactive Technology

Las Vegas -- A Los Gatos, Calif.-based developer will announce Monday from the floor of The Cable Show ’07 here that three large cable networks will use its technology to bring Weblike features to viewing their programming on television.

Ed Forman, chief operating officer of the developer, ICTV, declined to identify the three programmers other than to note that they have full distribution with cable-system operators across the country and are owned by well-known media firms.

Also, weather service AccuWeather of State College, Pa., and financial-news service Reuters, based in London, are starting interactive-programming channels, the company will disclose, using ICTV's ActiveVideo technology that allows content to be driven from computer servers to TVs, PCs and handheld devices.

"This is a real breakthrough for television,'' Forman asserted at The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Sunday, "because it brings the ability to view the Web media experience on TV. Viewers get to view what they want when they want to see it.''

With its crossing of Web and video-distribution technologies, Forman said a local news broadcaster, for instance, could transmit a channel that can be operated from a TV remote control that includes interactive features, such as the ability to view a constantly changing menu of stories of interest to the viewers. The channel might start with the editors' chosen lead story at the moment, but viewers could click to other immediately available stories, from choices presented surrounding the active video frame.

The technology will allow cable networks to keep viewers on their channels and on their primary form of distribution -- TV -- and lose them less often to the Web, where their sites are part of a much vaster lineup of competitors, Forman said.

They also may be able to reap new revenues from advertising aimed at these viewers, whose interest in particular content will be demonstrated by their clicks, he said.

If successful, the Web-like interactivity could also give cable networks more features and usefulness to viewers than programming downloaded and later played back on TV by devices attached to television sets that are made by computer companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Apple has started to sell a download box called Apple TV and Microsoft allows playback through its Xbox game machine.

The cable networks Monday will not disclose any agreements to have interactive content distributed with cable-system operators, Forman said. Each programmer must work out deals for carriage with distributors; they are just disclosing plans to use ICTV's ActiveVideo distribution network to get interactive content and services delivered to cable and Internet-protocol-driven television networks.

One cable-system overbuilder Monday, however, likely will announce it has started to use ActiveVideo technology. Broadband operator Grande Communications Networks, Forman said, will begin to use ActiveVideo's P:Mosaic feature to allow TV viewers to create personal lineups of TV channels they like to view, regularly, he said.

The P:Mosaic service will first appear in San Marcos, Texas, Forman said, where Grande is based.