ACT Television, a Bangalore-based multisystem operator, has changed the idiot box to an interactive TV, where both the viewer and broadcaster can communicate with each other, with the launching its ACT Interactive TV service yesterday.
ACT will be the first company to introduce interactive TV service in Bangalore, where it will provide viewers with digital experience at an affordable rate with triple play service which allows television broadcasting, high-speed internet connection and telephony.
ACT, which launched this Rs100 crore venture with majority participation by private equity firm India Value Fund Advisors (IVFA), plans to invest a further Rs400-500 crore in the next two years.
It has already acquired cable networks, digitalisation and has set up the IPTV infrastructure in Bangalore and in certain parts of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh while it has set up three digital headends in Bangalore, Indore and Nellore.
Speaking at the launch, MD Sundar Raju of ACT Television said the company will provide IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) service, which not only gives better than digital quality on a TV but offers much more to make it far superior to DTH and digital services.
He also said that ACT Interactive TV would turn a television set into a convergence device, where it lets you pause, rewind and play live TV. Not just that, you can also skip to current time whenever you please.
One can record one programme while watching another at the same time and can schedule favourite shows to be recorded while you are away, so you can catch up with them at your convenience.
ACT has a library with over 4,000 licensed DVD quality movies across three languages in Kannada, Hindi and Tamil and allows you to watch them at the click of a button where you can also pause, rewind and play the movie just like you would do on your DVD player.
The Media Centre feature allows users to transfer videos, photos and music directly from various sources like their PC, camera or pen drive onto the television set.
ACT will bring out new features like E-Shopping, Online Education, Video on Phone, Travelogues, astrology, city info, news, stock and weather updates and cooking programs, all through a compact remote.
A broadband connection and a Verismo set-top box is required initially to get started on ACT Interactive TV, where the company is charging Rs2,999 for the set-top box as an introductory offer and 150 broadcast channels for Rs299.
If one requires an optional 160GB Hard Disc to store their favourite programmes, the cost is Rs3,500 while the video on demand cost Rs200 or one can take a package of 150 channels, internet on TV and unlimited broadband connection with speed of 256 kbps for Rs.1,050.
As interactive TV is relatively new in India but has become very common abroad and has been growing in popularity with new innovations in technology and all that is required is adding a special set-top box to the existing television set as well as high speed broadband service.
Most services involve offering special programming, news, home shopping, video-on-demand, home banking, live voting where many television programming asks viewers to participate live with their show and buying products and services from the comfort of your home through the TV set.
Currently, viewers vote-in and vote-out people from TV shows with the help of their mobiles but with interactive TV viewers will have direct access to the anchor of the show and will be able to vote 'live' on a show where viewers can participate more actively.
Labeled by many industry experts as the ''wave of the future'' and 'TV on steroids', interactive television has also been blamed by critics as creating more 'couch potatoes' as one can order anything from a pizza to a luxury car, by just sitting in front of the TV with a remote in hand.
TV ads or video-on-demand-offerings, let viewers order brochures, coupons or samples where you will soon be able to have almost any product or service you desire, delivered by pressing a button during the ad or video clip.
Interactive television will also be used by companies to invade on your privacy because it involves use of personal data kept on subscribers, such as street address, home phone number, mobile numbers, e-mail address or payment record. TV providers also can track exactly what people watch and when.
In interactive television, every click of your remote control goes into a database. This is called your TV set's ''click stream'', and it can be analysed to create a picture of who you are and what you want.
Such profiles of households or individuals can then be used to target consumers with direct marketing techniques, through their television, mail or over the phone.
With a traditional 30-second TV commercial, a company only knows how many people saw it but with Interactive TV, marketing wizards of the company also study consumer behavior in response to the ad.