Still wary of interaction

Despite campaigns promoting the advantages of digital television, most subscribers remain passive viewers

This survey polls people with access to digital television services and asks them a number of questions related to their usage and attitudes towards it.

The results, compiled by OMD Snapshots, show that two years after Sky’s digital launch and on the back of the recent multi-million-pound advertising push for its interactive platform, subscribers are still using their sets primarily as televisions.

The survey reported that the vast majority of subscribers (80 per cent) don’t agree with the statement that they use their TV for more than just viewing.

We also asked our panellists to rank the benefits of digital TV from a list of six features. The most popular three answers were, in order, better picture quality, increased choice of channels and better sound quality. Trailing in the wake of these “lean-back” passive responses were the “lean-to” interactive benefits of Internet access, home shopping and playing games.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for interactive platform providers and

i-retailers. Only 11 per cent of subscribers refuse to see the point of digital services, while only eight per cent are still to be convinced that digital TV is right for them.

Moreover, there is the definite acknowledgement of subscribers that they are under-using the interactive services available to them, with half of them agreeing that they should use the interactive services more.

To allow panellists to project how they would most like to use their televisions, we included a free-format response question: “If there’s one thing that you’d like to be able to do through your TV in the future, what would it be?”

Feedback showed most panellists were satisfied with the current performance of their televisions. However, the most popular item on the wish lists – apart from random responses such as “erasing Dale Winton” and “making cups of tea” – was the ability to see friends and family on the screen while communicating with them.

It is clear that digital TV is still perceived as an enhanced entertainment medium and not as a gateway to its interactive areas and their benefits. This should change over time (and, of course, OMD Snapshots will be able to track this) but a great deal depends on the interactive platform content and promotion from television channels and advertisers has a vital role to play in drawing viewer traffic to the interactive areas.

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