Latest study shows a divide between what viewers want from interactivity and what production companies are working on
Producers must re-think their approaches to interactive television to ally them more closely with what viewer want a new survey from reveals, writes Dominic Timms.

Undertaken in conjunction with communications agency Mantra, the survey showed that more than fifty per cent of production companies were working on interactive propositions but less than 20 per cent of viewers said they were interested in what they were developing.

As part of a two-part investigation, more than 800 TV professionals replied to an online survey and 300 consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 were canvassed.

The consumer survey showed that consumer knowledge about interactive television is high - 50 per cent of consumer respondents knew what interactivity was in relation to TV programmes. Over half said they had played interactive TV games, over 40 per cent had used interactive shopping and the same number had watched television programmes over the internet.

Asked which programmes were best suited to interactivity, 31 per cent of consumers voted for game shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, while 21 per cent voted for reality TV programmes such as Big Brother.

Producers meanwhile said interactivity was best suited to eductional programmes (73 per cent) sport (54 per cent), entertainment (52 per cent) and feature films (51 per cent).

Interactive games, shopping and competitions featured highly on the wish list of most consumers. Nearly a third said they wanted to play interactive games, just under a quarter said they wanted more interactive shopping and just over two-fifths wanted to enter interactive competitions.

Production companies meanwhile said they were concentrating on developing interactive elements such as e-mail (63 per cent), video streaming (57 per cent), community-based forums (45 per cent) and competitions (45 per cent).

The survey also showed that for many early adopters of interactive services, their experience had been a poor one. Of the 53 per cent who had played interactive TV games, over half said they would not be interested in using such services in the future. Nearly a quarter of web-based TV watchers said they would not continue to watch television over the internet.