Interactive TV may live after all.
Wink Communications, maker of an interactive TV technology, will today announce a deal with NBC that calls for the two companies to deliver interactive television during the 1997-98 TV season. Wink is also in discussions with The Weather Channel and Turner to produce more interactive television programming.
Wink uses the Vertical Blanking Interval much like closed captioning technology, to add visual or textual information to the viewer's screen. The NBC programming will be available to households with Wink-enabled cable set-top boxes in the U.S. and, beginning next year, new TV models that will also be equipped with Wink technology.
Wink interactive TV is already available in Japan.
Entertainment and sports will be the first types of programming for which NBC will develop interactive enhancements, but network executives haven't yet picked which series will be involved in the rollout. Wink will also be able to transmit transactional TV commercials.
NBC has been very active in exploring new media opportunities. NBC's foray into the interactive television market so far has included programming using Intel's Intercast software, which transmits data through standard TV signals, just as Wink does. "What we've learned from Intercast programming we can apply to Wink," said Peg Murphy, manager of business development for NBC Interactive Media.
The difference between Intel's product and Wink's is that Intercast is received through a computer and offers real-time TV programming and related Internet content simultaneously. Wink is transmitted to the TV and uses a remote control to access the interactive features.