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NY1 Launches New Interactive "Snap Poll" Component

NY1 Launches New Interactive "Snap Poll" Component

September 15, 2005

On Tuesday night, NY1 launched a new high-tech component to our newscast that could signal the beginning of an entirely new way of watching television. In the following report, NY1 Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin looks at the first steps toward true interactive TV.

It’s the latest sign that TV is becoming more than something you simply sit lifelessly in front of and stare at. This week, NY1 launched a new interactive component to its 24-hour newscast called the "Snap Poll."

The technology, designed by Navic Networks, allowed anchors on primary night to ask viewers polling questions that you could answer by simply hitting A, B, or C on your remote control.

“The core product we provide is called Hypergate, which is essentially a way of communicating with digital cable set tops in the field,” says Chet Kanojia of Navic Networks. “You load up the questions in an Internet-based tool, and it presents to the consumers. At that point the consumer has a choice to either dismiss it or engage it. Once they respond to the question, the data is efficiently moved back into the network, where the results are tabulated and published to the production staff.”

Each question remained up and could be answered, only once, during a 45-second window. Only digital subscribers could vote using their remote, while others participated online.

New York isn't the first cable system to implement the technology, but it is by far the largest. By the end of the night viewers had cast 17,000 votes in response to just four questions.

“The challenge of New York City really is volume of customers,” says Cesar Beltran of Time Warner Cable NYC. “We have about 1.8 million customers total, so when we put an application such as this in front of every TV in New York we always have issues of network traffic that we have to be very careful with, and we have to manage properly.”

And while NY1's plan for the technology includes polls throughout the news day and at night during the sports show, there are some other Time Warner Cable franchises throughout the country that have been using this technology for years now. And they're way ahead – even allowing some customers to take care of daily chores using just their remote.

“One of the first system's we deployed was Time Warner's Oceanic system in the state of Hawaii,” says Kanojia. “There are about 27 applications there that range from shopping, advertising, voting, polling, pizza, [and a] food court [where] you can actually order barbecue off your TV.”

Other applications slated for the immediate future include everything from interacting with commercials to choosing alternate endings for your favorite TV shows.

- Adam Balkin

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