Projections of CATV systems as the likely vehicle for the large scale introduction of interactivity to the TV viewing experience have been with us for about as long as CATV itself. The fact that most interactive endeavors, while meeting their technical objectives, have been eluded by economic success has not lessened that likelihood.
In fact, for the first time in the 20 odd years of interactive capability, the market, not the technology, is responsible for renewed interest. For this reason more than any other, the outlook for the economically successful inclusion of interactive service(s) to CATV program fare is brighter than at any previous time. An indication of this trend is in the nature of the interactive services themselves. While early efforts tried to provide as wide a range of uses as the technology would support, current fare has concentrated on specific services, i.e., home shopping, or pay per view or games, etc. A reactive rather than proactive position indicating a market need rather than responding to a market potential.
This paper will describe the current state of one such specific interactive service, "random access electronic home shopping".