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My opening remarks at the NYNMA ITV SIG 12/23/02

Good Evening, and Happy Holidays. I’m Howard Greenstein, Director of Operations at the Twin Towers Fund, and a member of the board of NYNMA. NYNMA was founded in 1994 and it is a community of professionals with a strong interest in using innovative technologies to grow their business.  That’s a long way of saying that NYNMA Is a big-tent organization that helps rally different factions in the media/technology community in such as Special Interest Groups like this one.

I’ve been involved in the streaming and interactive media industry in New York since doing projects for ad agencies in the late 80s. Some of you know me as a former technical evangelist for Windows Media Technologies, or from Streaming platform company Sorceron. I’m currently in the Not-for-profit sector, Which some might say encompases many of the companies that have been in ITV to this point

But I’m  hoping to rejoin the streaming and interactive community again soon. Stay tuned, as they say.


I’ve been involved long enough that I “remember the future well” – so I may sound a little cynical about ITV – but I’m also hopeful.

 This is probably the 5th go-around for the Interactive TV industry. We have people in this community, in this room, who have “been there” and “done that” multiple times. Pundits have predicted both the rise and the death of ITV for years, with limited return on their predictions.

Some of the things that ITV services previously promised have happened on the Internet, on cable systems movie on demand systems, on Tivo and Replay, on Xbox and PS2.  That’s interesting in the context of A Winter 1995 Gartner Group Briefing – whichc Predicted ITV’s inflection point – where it would start to gain traction - as 2001 – and predicted PCs as the preferred access method for medium and high-interactivity services.

Let me take a minute and walk back on memory lane of ITV.

Start with Winky Dink and You, a show from the 50s where kids could interact with the cartoon character on the TV by drawing on the screen, using a plastic overlay.,. But  How many parents found that their kids drew on the tube, even if they didn’t have the plastic sheet? It ran for about 7 years – one of the big previous successes.

There were the Warner Amex Qube trials where Pay-per-view, as a concept, first got it’s try-out.

A big go round in both money and learning was Time Warner’s Orlando Full Service network. Over a Billion was spent in ’93 and ‘94 to create interactive programming that would, to quote Business Week from that year “Change the very nature of television.”

Well, there is a lot different in TV today, but, hundreds of channels aside, it’s nature is very much intact.

Around the same time, Bell Atlantic and TCI cable had a flirtation with a mega-merger that would bring ITV to our homes. ATT created DownTown Digital to explore ITV. Lots of experiments ran in the genre of “Click on that girls’ handbag and buy it” and as one person reminded me, the must-do ITV demo always involved ordering a pizza from your TV.

But none of the services got a critical mass of audience or advertisers to make a business mode.

So, past all these trials, and tribulations, we may have a good base to start an industry again - Lots of money was spent, and good mistakes were made. Good mistakes – because people gained experience, learned what did not work, and what people would or would not buy.

An Interesting calculation in a Times article from ’94  basically implied that phone companies at the time could make only 1.6 cents/minute on their lines by doing pay-per-view type services.  Interesting. Today you can probably charge more for a movie, and most broadband companies don’t meter by the minute. So maybe this shows an initial business model for current companies testing the waters, like Intertainer, or Real Networks alliance with the Starz Channel?  


So where are we now?  A lot of work has gone into ITV. And a lot has gone into interactive services on the web.

A great deal of the creative force, energy, content, and enthusiasm for these service happened a few blocks north of here, in what we used to like to call Silicon Alley. A lot of the money for those experiments came from slightly east of here on Wall Street. 

So, is NY poised to be a force in coming interactive TV or broadband services? (one could say it already is)What will those services be? Can our creative folks get past the cliché of “order a pizza from your TV” and really get something NEW going here?

 I’ll leave that for the panel and the moderator. Felicia Carty Founded and Chairs the NYNMA iTV SIG and is an Online Marketing Manager at DigitalGrit. Over the past ten years, Felicia's experience has been based in Account Management within traditional and interactive advertising.

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Last update: 12/24/2002; 9:01:51 PM.