Two Way TV hit as roll out is stalled

The future of Two Way TV, the interactive TV games system, is in doubt after the company postponed its national roll out, which was scheduled for October.

The system comprises a set-top box and a pair of handsets, which allow viewers to join in TV game shows like Family Fortunes and Countdown. The company has decided to drop its previous commitment to analogue boxes, costing 100 at retail, and to refocus on digital technology instead.

British Interactive Broadcasting (BIB), the digital interactive home shopping system, has confirmed it opened negotiations with Two Way TV last month. Publicly, Two Way TV says it will continue to make analogue boxes. However, a source close to the company says if it can agree terms, its national roll out will be through the BIB system. The autumn launch campaign through its agency Saatchi & Saatchi is understood to have been cancelled.

Two Way TV, which has Ladbrokes as one of its backers, has been tested in the Central TV region since March, but has only sold about 30,000 sets.

A source close to the company says: “Nobody wants to buy this system when hundreds of digital broadcasting channels are around the corner. Time has passed it by.”

Earlier this summer, the company pulled out of a promotional tie-up with Flextech cable game show channel Challenge TV. Two Way TV has a marketing budget of about 20m.

However, Two Way TV’s managing director Simon Cornwell says households with Two Way TV boxes watch ten hours more TV each week than the national average.

“These are precisely the requirements digital broadcasters must meet to persuade consumers to pay extra for new services and to generate viewer loyalty,” he adds.

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