Inside Move: Emmys, AFI spotlight interactive TV growth

Workshop opens with public panels, retrospective

Five years ago, interactive TV was perhaps better called inactive TV.

Flash forward to this week. The TV Academy is handing out the first interactive TV Emmy, and the American Film Institute has had little trouble finding big-name sponsors or participants for its fifth annual enhanced TV workshop.

Where once the workshop was about blue-sky projects, now it’s about putting something on air. On July 24, the workshop opens with a day of public panels and a retrospective of the past year’s best work.

Then, eight teams from four PBS shows, ESPN, TVLand, Turner and the Food Network will begin a six-month process of developing enhanced TV projects in concert with advisers from companies such as Liberate, OpenTV, Microsoft and others.

“Though we prefer to see projects built out for deployment, the important thing is to get producers thinking about what’s possible with this,” says Marcia Zellers, who runs AFI’s enhanced TV program.

Zellers says progress on rolling out enhanced/interactive TV has slowed lately, perhaps not surprisingly, as tech companies consolidate and cable companies slow their digital conversion. Nonetheless, she says, the nascent form looks to enjoy some big leaps in the near future.

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