Media Money with Julia Boorstin

NAB Convention: The Buzz Is All About TV Interactivity

The National Association of Broadcasters convention is underway in Las Vegas. It's packing the enormous convention center with every different type of technology related to shooting, editing and broadcasting content.

When it comes to content distribution, media and tech companies have been focused on giving consumers what they want, when and where they want it.

Now the big buzz word is interactivity. So much of the technology here at NAB sends data both ways to the consumers, and back to broadcasters and advertisers.

Interactivity allows advertising to reflect what viewers are watching, enabling much more targeted advertising. And interactivity allows for a whole new social element--chat and the sharing of TV clips--making sitting alone in your living room as social as spending the afternoon with your nearest and dearest pals.

And these same tech and media companies love the idea of consumers sharing TV clips with friends the way we currently forward a newspaper article. When friends make recommendations people simply consume MORE content, and it makes whatever service or platform they're consuming content on, that much more "sticky." All in all, a win win for content distributors and advertisers.

A range of companies are investing in this business. Enrique Rodriguez, the head of Microsoft's TV business told me yesterday that while TV until now has had basically nothing to do with software, this new interactive TV will be all about software. That means Microsoft wants to dominate this kind of software sales to media companies--just as it has consumer software sales. Rodriguez says he thinks layering IM-style chat on top of TV watching will become another common way to communicate, just as email and IM are now.

Motorolahas an interactive TV system (part of its home networking division) it currently offers through cable and telecom carriers in Europe. It allows sports fans to not only be alerted when their home team scores a goal, it also allows them to purchase merchandise with their teams' logo in the heat of the moment. Talk about tapping into the urge to make an impulse purchase.

AT&Ts U-Verse is the only pure Internet Protocol TV available in the U.S. (Verizon's Fios is a sort of hybrid.) It's in the process of rolling out and the head of AT&T's TV ventures Daniel York says they can't keep up with demand. Adding 12,000 subscribers a week, they're expecting to top one million subscribers by the end of the year.

Because U-Verse only sends the consumer exactly what he or she wants--instead of taking up bandwidth with every single option--the idea is that you can offer a lot more options, at very high resolution. York wouldn't comment on what social interaction features are in the works, but he hinted that we could be seeing some announcements soon.

More on mobile broadcasting coming later today.

Questions?  Comments?