Clickable TV Needs the WGA

The Guild should jump at the opportunity to make this new media technology a source of income for its members.

Last Updated: October 4, 2009 @ 10:45 PM

On the heels of several announced interactive television launches, chatter spread through the business and trade press comparing these efforts to the many that have failed in the past. But for many of us in the field, these announcements are something that we believe marks a turning point.

The first applications to be launched by most of the participating cablers and telcos will be to bolster advertising revenue. Over interactive TV’s long history we have all seen promotional videos of how through the click of a couple of buttons we could get catalogs or coupons mailed to us from TV commercials.

But I don’t think advertising-related clickable moments will hold the TV viewer’s interest unless the TV programming community comes along and takes the interactive experience to a whole new level./p>

In November of 2007 Hollywood came to a standstill as the WGA strike sought out and won compensation for new media — with major concessions found in the re-purposing of TV content for Internet and mobile consumption. These clickable TV announcements should cause some excitement inside the WGA.

They should jump at the opportunity to work with these distribution platforms and make this new media technology a source of income for it’s members.

Interactive TV is not just about advertising. From my vantage point the medium is about seeing a banner ad, or a swipe inside programming, and then clicking my TV remote and bookmarking it to view on my own schedule on something like my iPhone. 

America is calling and texting their votes by the tens of millions for many of the reality shows. I see this "voting" as just a training exercise till the day all TV content is linked from the remote control to at least one additional digital device (mobile or the Internet).

Despite the erosion of ad dollars, TV viewers are not moving away from traditional television anytime soon — if ever. However, the medium is adapting to the consumer’s demand for interactivity as evidenced by how often website addresses are embedded in all forms of TV programming today.

TV producers and writers should be studying Internet behavior to understand TV’s future. Nowadays everybody is tagging and linking Internet content to their Google Reader or Facebook account(s).

Essentially these early efforts are bringing "tagging" to the television platform except at launch they are mostly focused on TV advertising, with the follow up being through postal mail rather than a web page.

But I bet that integration with the Internet will not be far behind.

Michael Kokernak has written about the disruption of the traditional television business model for virtually every industry trade magazine since 1998. He is also an inventor and the company he founded, Backchannelmedia, has filed several patent applications in the TV advertising space. Kokernak’s company has been profiled in Business Week, New York Times, Boston Globe, Advertising Age, and in a Harvard Business School Case Study. He welcomes questions and comments at mkokernak@gmail.com or on LinkedIn.