The iTV Doctor Is In!: Interactive TV Commerce

Dear iTV Doctor:

We WANT to do interactive television. To keep up with the bigger network "families" we NEED to do interactive television. But when you think that iTV users would be just a fraction of our viewing audience, we just won't have enough eyeballs to generate enough advertising money to PAY for interactive television. How can we make money from interactive television TODAY?

Budget-Bound Network


Dear Budget-Bound:

I agree that accumulating sufficient viewership and usage to attract advertisers to iTV is tough, particularly as we are all working hard to build out the delivery platforms. But there is another way to generate income to support your efforts: iTV commerce, otherwise known as tcommerce. I've forwarded your question to Michael Huegel, founder and president of iCueTV, the folks that have been making a lot of noise in the interactive television commerce space.

Here's what Mike has to say:


We have always viewed tcommerce broadly. Whether in the form of direct product purchases, RFI's, voting, polling or click-to-call, tcommerce is an immediate and rich source of incremental revenue for cable and satellite operators, advertisers and content providers.

iTV commerce is an interesting hybrid of traditional DRTV of the Billy Mays school, coupled with the engagement of the viewer with his or her favorite television show. For years we've talked about "buying Jennifer Aniston's sweater," and as attractive as that prospect has been, the industry really has not had the technology to fire up that kind of commerce solution quickly and easily. Until now.

We believe the critical path for television commerce involves low-cost production, ease of execution, broad deployment and a performance-based model that creates a WIN WIN scenario. In other words (and we'll use Billy Mays' inflection here), MAKE IT CHEAP, MAKE IT FAST, GET IT OUT!

You may want to merchandise Ms. Aniston's sweater, but you may just as easily sell the soundtrack to a specific episode (easy to describe, available off-the-shelf and quick to ship). And many programming networks are already in the commerce space on their Web sites, so they have the procedures in place to take an order, process a payment and ship the product. The difference is that a commerce application that pops up during the program can generate an impulse purchase, which is something your Web site simply can't do.

And the beauty is that the economics for commerce are based on those who respond, and each response is money in your pocket. You don't need to sell a thousand viewers for a few pennies; you can generate more profit from a single transaction than by advertising to tens of thousands of viewers.

Our platform has been designed specifically to capture those incremental, impulsive and compelling opportunities, and our performance-based model makes it cost-effective for all.



The iTV Doctor is Rick Howe, who provides interactive television consulting services to programmers and advertisers. He is the recipient of a CTAM Tami Award for retention marketing and this year was nominated to Cable Pioneers. He is also the co-author of a patent for the use of multiscreen mosaics in EPG's. Endorsed by top cable and satellite distributors, "Dr" Howe still makes house calls, and the first visit is always free. His services include product development, distribution strategy and the development of low-cost interactive applications for rapid deployment across all platforms.

Have a question for the iTV Doctor? Email him at

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