Companies developing interactive television services have always looked at how to adapt television programmes to the new medium. But now GTE Corp and Creative Multimedia Inc have come up with a different tack, adapting CD-ROM titles to be delivered over the cable network. If successful, and copied, the move could open up a whole new […]
Companies developing interactive television services have always looked at how to adapt television programmes to the new medium. But now GTE Corp and Creative Multimedia Inc have come up with a different tack, adapting CD-ROM titles to be delivered over the cable network. If successful, and copied, the move could open up a whole new market for CD-ROM authors, all the people that do not have personal compters with CD-ROM drives, but who do have cable television. For interactive television providers, there’s the chance to provide some innovative services such as a hybrid between a television programme and glorified teletext. The duo says that the 4,000 customers in California, New Hampshire and Massachusetts of GTE’s mainStreet interactive television network – it appears the network is now called mainStreet and the company that operates it GTE Main Street, all because the Stamford company does not want to offend Newbridge Networks Corp, whose MainStreet Asynchronous Transfer Mode switches it uses – will be able to access and navigate adapted versions of Creative’s titles using their standard television remote control. The first titles to be put on line will be Creative’s murder mysteries. Luckily, the games do not require any text input from the user, so viewers will be able to navigate around the game, looking at clues and locations. The one big but with the project is that mainStreet cannot currently cope with providing moving images on demand. Its subscribers today are offered services that fall into two separate categories. The first are like everyday television programmes, but adapted to take interactive input from the viewer – a quiz show, for example, that is shown on-air at a particular time of day, but where the viewer has the ability to play along and answer questions, competing for prizes. The other type of service comprises a series of still image and audio pages that can be displayed on demand. Currently these are used by the company to implement everything from home shopping to card games and weather information. Adding moving image on demand to this is simply not feasible, due to both technological and financial constraints, said GTE’s senior vice-president of programming, Bob Regan. GTE Main Street is not likely to add movie capabilities to the CD-ROM mix for another couple of years, pending an increase in network bandwidth, he said. Until then, the kind of CD-ROMs that can be adapted to run on Main Street will be somewhat limited. The company is having to rebuild the CD-ROM applications, taking all the original artwork, and feeding them into its stills store. Each murder mystery comprises about 2,000 screens. Access times are faster than would be the case if accessed from a local CD-ROM drive. The service is expected to be ready this autumn. Main Street will bundle the CD-ROMs into its $10-a-month basic charge, and Creative will get a fee based on the number of subscribers. The company is hungry for new titles: ideally, the television company wants to offer a new murder mystery every month, Regan said. The company is also looking at other Creative titles to adapt.