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Local TV Stations to Test Over-the-Air Interactive TV

LAS VEGAS—Broadcasters in three cities are teaming up with technology companies to test over-the-air, interactive TV. The trial is intended to demonstrate the capability for viewing enhanced content and advertising delivered to LG Smart TVs in Atlanta, Cleveland and Orlando markets during live news broadcasts.

Interactive tests planned by the stations include additional photo and map overlays offered to viewers wanting more information about particular news events and weather reports, as well as personalized traffic information and content from the station’s own websites. Functionality also includes the ability to interact with advertising by requesting more information such as store locations or receiving coupons. 

The effort is being coordinated by Pearl, a venture of eight TV station groups that was formed four years ago to explore and pursue new opportunities in digital media, particularly mobile DTV. Pearl members include Cox Media Group, the E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Co. Inc., Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Local Media Group, Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media. Schurz Communications is also investing in the interactive TV trial.

Throughout the U.S., Pearl TV broadcasters reach 111 million households representing 63 percent of the U.S. population with 170 network-affiliated and top-ranked TV stations that collectively book nearly $4 billion in annual advertising revenue.

The live TV trial will deliver enhanced content to viewers utilizing services from the Watchwith sync-to-broadcast content management platform and the Cognitive Networks automatic content recognition capability to LG Smart TV sets already in consumer homes in the test markets.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, Internet-connected Smart TVs represent one of the fastest growing categories in the industry.

In their Global Digital Living Forecast Workbook from March 2014, Parks Associates estimates that the number of smart TV households in the U.S. will reach 42 million this year, representing 36 percent of all TV households. Approximately one-third of those sets will be ACR-capable. By 2018, a majority, 56 percent, of smart TV sets will be ACR-enabled.

For the interactive TV trial, Watchwith is providing a sync-to-broadcast content management platform for television stations for creating, scheduling and delivering timed interactive content, advertising and commerce to viewers that is in sync with shows and commercials they are watching.

The Cognitive Networks automatic content recognition system is the underlying technology running on the LG TVs that enables the local station to send the right HTML5 content at the right time to the right show—based on the consumer decision to add interactivity to the show.

Stations participating in Atlanta are WSB (Cox), WGCL (Meredith) and WXIA (Gannett). Cleveland stations that are participating in the trial include WOIO (Raycom), WEWS (Scripps) and WKYC (Gannett). In Orlando, participating stations are WKMG (Post-Newsweek), WFTV (Cox) and WESH (Hearst).