Theory and data in the design of interactive television structures
Currently, many companies are designing and testing multi-channel interactive television systems. In many of these designs, the research systems are envisioned to be integrated as part of the medium itself. Such integrated research systems could dramatically alter the way in which television advertising is used, bought and sold. In this paper, we propose a formal theoretical framework. First, we show how this framework encompasses the traditional research systems for television program ratings as well as television commercial ratings. Typically, the traditional research systems are represented by simple structures, for which some of the information content is traditionally summarized in the form of 'ratings'. Next, we show how the proposed interactive television systems would fit under this framework. Typically, the new systems are represented by information-rich complex structures. Many different types of services (such as video on demand, home shopping services, on-line information services, video-games, etc.) are likely to be offered on these interactive systems. Because of the disparate natures of these services, it may be necessary to have a number of summary statistics above and beyond the traditional 'rating'. The new interactive systems will not replace the traditional broadcast systems immediately or entirely. Instead, there will be an a long period of ten to fifteen years or longer in which the old and the new will co-exist side by side. Some of the anticipated problems and frictions in the interregnum will be discussed. We believe that it is important and feasible to set research standards for intermedia comparisons, and we will describe some of our current work in this area.
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