By Marcus Webb
Interactive Television Alliance to accelerate iTV demand & deployment.
Key leaders of the emerging American and European interactive television industries have united to create a new trade association, the Interactive Television Alliance. At the top of its agenda the Interactive Television Alliance (iTV Alliance) declares it will aggressively promote interactive television deployment through consumer awareness campaigns and cross-industry outreach. The iTV Alliance represents a coalition of companies and professionals that create, distribute, and enable interactive programming delivered through the television.
"We're extremely pleased with the response," commented iTV Alliance president Ben Mendelson. "Executives at the highest levels of the iTV industry have committed to leadership roles in this new organization. More than 30 core companies are already participating and over 100 others are ready to join. Furthermore, the roster of companies joining spans all segments of the industry, and that's critical to making interactive television a reality in the U.S."
Indeed, the Interactive Television Alliance line-up reads like a Who's Who of the iTV industry, with executives from Canal +, Liberate, OpenTV, Wink and WorldGate heading the charge. The group is organized to include members from all segments of the iTV production chain: Content, Distribution, Advertising, Applications, Hardware, Data/Commerce and Production.
As part of its outreach, the association will focus on creating strong partnerships with advertisers to facilitate the creation of new business models.
"We're working very closely with forward-thinking companies who are looking beyond traditional revenues," noted chairman Art Cohen, (Sr.VP, ACTV). "The whole point is to make iTV profitable, and we've found many advertisers, agencies, and networks ready to explore revolutionary interactive programming approaches."
In keeping with that spirit of cooperation, the iTV Alliance is developing an extensive public awareness campaign. The initiative will be used to kick-start the industry by stimulating consumer demand for iTV services. The campaign will include a 30-minute TV show customized for each network operator, magazine supplements, online information and public demonstration centres.
"We, as an industry, are responsible for educating the public," emphasized Alliance co-president Allison Dollar. "We need to define interactive television for consumers, show them examples of the exciting interactive services available. This outreach campaign will set realistic expectations about what can be delivered today, while collecting data on what they would like to experience tomorrow."
The Alliance expects to actively cooperate with existing industry organizations and to support these groups' efforts, not duplicate them.
"Broadcasters, cable and satellite operators, programmers and advertisers all stand to profit from iTV," stressed co-chairman Ken Papagan (President, Delmar Media.NET). "We plan to provide education, networking opportunities and professional services for our members, and these can dovetail nicely with needs that already exist in other associations that have mutual interests in advancing iTV."
The Interactive Television Alliance will hold its first organizing meeting during the National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference this week. "This is long overdue," elaborated Alliance president Mendelson. "The structure of the iTV Alliance allows us to take control of our own destiny instead of waiting passively for the environment to change. We will foster new forms of revenue, providing tangible value to our members. The iTV Alliance will always keep this as our primary focus."