T-commerce, or interactive TV commerce, is slated to be the next big revenue earner for advertisers and companies, as the innocuous remote control transforms itself into a information-seeking, order-placing, e-mail sending machine, once interactive TV comes in.
T-commerce is expected to bring in $1.5-billion revenues in the US this year, while the 2004 global figures point to a $60-billion t-commerce industry. Currently, there are 17 million homes globally with interactive TV software on their digital set-top boxes, a figure, which is expected to zoom to 250 mn by 2005.
Globally, more than 60 per cent of interactive TV comes in through the DTH (direct-to-home) platform provided by the likes of BSkyB in UK, while the rest is through the broadband cable network.
Interactive TV is all about enhancing TV programming. Instead of sitting like a log and watching a commercial, you can click on your remote, open a form on TV, order some of the stuff you see or ask for more info. You can sit at home and participate in programmes like Kaun Banega Crorepati, send in your sahi jawaabs, by a few clicks on the button, and win some prizes. But the best part is you can send a t-mail to anybody, without getting up from the couch.
To evangelise on the power of T-commerce, Jeffrey N Brown, Apac director of Nasdaq-listed OpenTV, a interactive TV software development company floated by Sun Microsystems and Thomson Multimedia, was in Delhi recently. OpenTV is listed on the Nasdaq and Amsterdam stock exchanges and is the global leader in interactive TV software, having put their software on 13 mn desktop boxes globally.
There are two big issues for the spread of interactive TV in India. One, despite grand DTH plans of players like Star, the optimistic projections put DTH households at 1 lakh-odd, that too in the premium segment. Even broadband cable services have been more of hype till now. Second, the digital set top box for DTH, on which the interactive TV software is ported, itself is expensive. Even a cable modem for broadband service costs Rs 15,000.