Lessons from the first wave of TV interactivity - pt 2

"Text Menus, Enhanced Programming and Video Dashboards"

Text Menus, Enhanced Programming and Video Dashboards

Text Menus, Enhanced Programming and Video Dashboards

In part one of my blog we considered the different technical context that is now in place for TV interactivity and reflected on the fact that there are lessons and experiences to learn from the previous wave of red button innovation that occurred in the first decade of the 21st century. I also highlighted two significant differences between the current era of interactivity and the first red button wave of innovation - these are the availability of second screen apps, and the web connectivity now built into most set-top-boxes and screens.

Having looked back at the red button innovation of the Noughties and broken down the concepts into six broad categories, in this blog, the second of three, we explore Text Menus, Enhanced Programming and Video Dashboards.

Text Menus

Text menus were the simplest to understand and deliver, having text and graphical overlays to broadcast channels built on a heritage of text on TV created by Ceefax and Teletext. The assumption of the interactive overlays was that they were channel, not programme specific and they pre-dated the BBC News App by about 15 years. The fact that the BBC versions of these are still used by large numbers of people shows that there is an ingrained behaviour in large sections of the TV audience and that some information genres (e.g. football scores, horse racing results).
The challenge for new forms of interactive overlay is to identify where a programme or channel brand can build a new heritage of delivering that kind of information, to create value from data and services that complement a channel line-up.

Enhanced Programming

Enhanced Programming brought the functionality into the realm of the programme maker, not just the channel head. A range of concepts were trialled around science, natural history and live events where a case could be made for delivering complementary content through overlay screens. These broke down into those intended for use during a show, where the emphasis of interactivity was enhanced ‘participation’; or into extra enhancements for consumption after a show, where the emphasis was extended engagement.

The ‘enhanced participation’ concepts predominantly offered text and graphical overlays that allowed continued viewing of the programming underneath. Lots of sports programmes experimented with these as they could offer data to support the sports fan experience. The ‘extended engagement’ concepts took the viewer off to a dedicated area after the show to continue the interaction with extra video, games and competitions.

The challenge in both contexts was creating interactive outcomes that worked well in the shared, group nature of TV viewing and to get programme makers interested in experimenting with the format.

Previously, having different broadcast platforms delivering interactivity differently meant that programme makers needed to create three versions of interactivity to suit satellite, cable and DTT. This provided an extra creative and commercial challenge that many programme makers baulked at. The great hope of the new connected broadcasting context is that, by using open web standards, it will allow a more consistent outcome across platforms. Being able to work on a single creative idea that can play out across platforms will encourage channels and programme makers to experiment.

Video dashboards

Interactivity was shown to be particularly successful for live experiences where multiple events occur simultaneously. The BBC’s Wimbledon video dashboard, which let viewers choose which court to view, set the benchmark for this. Formula 1 (on Sky and Virgin) followed suit. This has been shown not just to work in sport. The BBC’s recent Glastonbury interactive TV experience has shown how to extend this capability to other ‘multiple focus point’ events.
Previously reliant on their being multiple broadcast streams to switch between, the new generation of connected red button extends the potential of this format to include linear IP streams. This dramatically extends the type and length of video content that can be offered through interactive screens behind a show.

Click here to read "Lessons from the first wave of TV interactivity - pt 1 "Context"