New York --Not surprising for a subject as new as
digital-broadcast television, a panel of experts at a conference here last week
couldn't identify what digital TV's killer applications would be.
In fact, News America Digital Publishing executive producer
Scott Ehrlich called digital TV a technology in search of an application.
But David Wicks, vice president of Cablevision Systems
Corp.'s new-media division, said months of quiet trials of on-demand services in Long
Island, N.Y., are yielding some helpful data.
For example, movie buy-rates through a true video-on-demand
service are 5 to 10 times higher than conventional pay-per-view sales, Wicks said during a
panel discussion at Summit '98, New York's New Media Industry Leadership
Conference, last Wednesday. Some subscribers who never bought PPV movies are buying them
now with the VOD system, he added.
Customers offered the option of viewing time-shifted soap
operas typically don't see much value in paying to watch yesterday's episode of
their favorite daytime dramas when they can get today's free-of-charge, Wicks said.
But they do think that it's worth something to get a full week's episodes,
setting the stage for today's free showing.
Kids' programming is a popular category, he added,
along with sports. Wicks said Cablevision would like to come up with a way of watching
sports highlights on your personal computer if you're too busy to watch the game.
As for high-definition television, Dean Daniels, vice
president and general manager of CBS New Media, said he thought that broadcasting in the
highest-resolution format of HDTV would provide a competitive advantage over broadcasters
that go with lower-resolution versions.
For one thing, European markets will demand the highest
definition, so, "if you want a prayer of an afterlife" for programming, it must
be in the so-called 1080i (interlaced) format, Daniels said.