Interactive TV: Good Idea That Doesn't Always Work

In our increasingly Web-dependent economy, I am rarely surprised by the back-to-back innovations, inventions and fads that tap into the ever-increasing trend of online integration.  Search Insider David Berkowitz recently wrote about the Samsung See'N'Search, which uses the program guide of your cable or satellite dish along with the closed caption metadata to suggest existing Internet content related to the TV show and allow viewers to browse the Web on their TV screen. 

This really got me thinking.  I am fascinated by Samsung's See'N'Search technology and how it will undoubtedly play an integral role in the future of search.  This product is both an invention and an innovation.  It is an unprecedented solution that also builds upon the foundation of search.  

So, what does surprise me?

While channel surfing the other day, I came across "COPS 2.0."  Yes, "COPS," the reality television show that filmed police officers while on duty that everyone has secretly enjoyed since the '90s.  Yes, 2.0, as in social networking during the broadcast.  "COPS 2.0" is another attempt to transfer the interactive Internet experience into the living room as See'N'Search is also doing.  "COPS 2.0" is the creation of G4TV and consists of reruns of "COPS."  The only difference is, the bottom quarter of the TV screen is occupied by live-chat correspondences from the show's viewers.  



I'm not sure if I was caught off-guard more by the concept, or the actual content of the chats that occupied the bottom 25% of real estate on my television screen.  All I can say is that watching a TV show while simultaneously reading along with real-time chat felt like a bad experiment in interactive TV. It was so distracting that the whole experience deterred me from continuing to watch the program.  Rather than using this column to solely voice my own opinion, I wanted to share portions of a post from the "COPS 2.0" forum on G4TV:

G4 why did you ruin COPS?  COPS 2.0, what in the world is this?  It blocks up half of the screen with complete nonsense.

Is all of that necessary?  Do I need to know that to watch the show?  Why in the world would they want us to know that?  - NinjaWarriorFan

As a side note, the link to this post is the eighth organic listing for "COPS 2.0."  This post also includes references to illegal drugs in chat windows and user content.

While "COPS 2.0" may be falling short in this attempt to create a quality interactive experience, people who are actually engaging in online conversation during television programming are reflecting what the future holds. There is a target demographic that is ready to embrace this interactive platform.  

This is truly a fascinating time to be involved in an industry that is about to make a huge leap in its evolution.  Advertisers are looking to integrate online and offline efforts -- and this type of behavior is exactly the reason.  We are multitaskers and love to voice our opinions, so watching TV and participating in a chat room is catchy.  
However, for this interactive programming to become mainstream, there should be a filter exclude irrelevant, offensive and immature commentary, a way for parents to shield their children from inappropriate content or an opt-out feature for viewers like the aforementioned NinjaWarriorFan.  With these solutions, those that are uninterested can watch the show without seeing the chat room on the screen.  

Regardless, one cannot ignore that Web 2.0 is here to stay -- and as TV programmers and technology companies like Samsung fine-tune their applications, we will undoubtedly see a greater acceptance of truly interactive platforms.

7 comments about "Interactive TV: Good Idea That Doesn't Always Work ".
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  1. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:38 p.m.

    Cops are cool

  2. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:45 p.m.

    Dead body

  3. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:49 p.m.


  4. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:53 p.m.

    They sell the crack

  5. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:54 p.m.


  6. Jason Terry, November 11, 2009 at 10:55 p.m.

    public sex

  7. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., November 12, 2009 at 5:53 p.m.

    The folks at Cops 2.0 almost have it right - they're just using the wrong platform. We produce a live, interactive show called KickStartTV ( - warning most people will find this show offensive) The onair "talent" utilize audience chat and user generated content to drive the show. It works because it's on a PC, not a 52 inch LCD in my livingroom.

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