What is Digital TV?
The UK has now completed digital switchover meaning all homes have access to digital TV providing more choice in terms of TV and radio channels, better signal quality, fairer access to channels and enhanced interactive services.
What is Interactive TV?
Interactive TV allows viewers to interact with a range of organisations who provide services and content in much the same way that a website does - they use their remote control, or in a minority of cases a keyboard, to access pages of information, enter data and receive responses via their TV. Today, 56% of homes in the UK have access to digital interactive TV (Sky & Virgin), over 14 million homes.
Youview - launched in autumn 2012 - offers homes a new subscription free way of watching TV including a 7-day catch up capability, access to on-demand programmes and the ability to pause, record and rewind programmes. There are plans to make interactive services available via Youview, and Looking Local is working with the platform to ensure access to our partner services.
To enable this two-way communication, a phone line or broadband cable needs to be plugged into the back of the box. This connectivity is standard for Satellite (Sky) and Virgin Media subscribers and there are a number of Freeview boxes now available that have a broadband connection.
UK Interactive Platforms
Over 4 million households - 16% of all UK homes - receive Virgin TV services, alongside enhanced channel choice, interactive services can be accessed by an 'always on' cable service. Virgin TV's interactive services are available in a walled garden (a closed or exclusive set of information services provided for users and not allowing browsing of other services or the Internet), where dedicated DiTV services exist and offer a range of interactive propositions.
Virgin offers video on demand (VOD), catch up TV and other options for varied TV viewing. VOD opens up the opportunity of offering video, where appropriate within your service and is a popular function for Virgin customers with over 55% of them using VoD services an average of 32 times a month. VoD could be particularly powerful for translation services for example, explaining eligibility criteria and how to fill in forms for common transactions such as benefits and housing could lead to significant savings.
Over 10.1 million homes either subscribe to Sky or have bought the one-off Freesat option from Sky across the country, this is around 37% of the UK population. Sky boxes are equipped with either a dial up modem or a broadband Ethernet connection. Again Sky has a walled garden where dedicated DiTV services are provided to the end user.
Sky gives the viewer a much wider range of channels and interactivity. Whilst by paying a one off fee, the 'Freesat' service can be bought which enables the home to enjoy the full package of 'Freeview' channels via satellite as well as the interactive services provided on the platform.