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Product Spotlight: TVTonic

Dec 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

What it is: TVTonic from Wavexpress, a New York-based company that provides secure content distribution for cable operators, terrestrial broadcasters and satellite providers.
What it does: TVTonic, first offered commercially in late October, is a software platform that enables interactive TV on the PC. Consumers who have a tuner card on their PCs enabling them to watch television on the computer can access interactive features through TVTonic. TVTonic essentially provides an interactive overlay to the TV experience on the computer with chat, instant messaging, e-commerce and other interactive features. TVTonic is a software plug-in to Internet Explorer. “It’s a whole new way of interactivity and using the TV with the PC interactive experience. It is truly a convergence product,” said Brian Hickey, VP of marketing for the company.
The here and now: While most interactive TV providers have been developing applications to deliver the interactivity of the PC to the TV, Wavexpress has seemingly gone in the opposite direction by offering interactive television on the PC. But it’s not really a step back, Mr. Hickey said, because full interactivity on the TV set isn’t widely available. “This is easier to do, and you can go to marketplace right away. All you need is a $49 tuner card and you can participate. You don’t have to wait for the cable or satellite provider to offer interactivity. This experience can go to the consumer right away.”
What viewers want: True interactivity is a lean-forward rather than a lean-back experience, Mr. Hickey said. According to research firm Gartner, there are 52 million so-called “telewebbers” in the United States-individuals who work on a PC while the TV is on in the same room, he said. “There is a universe that will find this [product] appealing,” he said.
Marketing: The target market for TVTonic will be the tech-savvy crowd and teen-agers who use interactive functions such as chat and messaging. In addition, TVTonic provides a convenient way for office workers to watch CNBC, for instance, during the day, Mr. Hickey said. Wavexpress will co-market the service with tuner card makers.
The future: TVTonic provides an environment that allows cable operators to organize and manage multicasting services that they may want to deliver in the future.