Interactive Television

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What Does Interactive Television Mean?

Interactive television (iTV) is the integration of traditional television technology and data services. It is a two-way cable system that allows users to interact with it via commands and feedback information. A set-top box is an integral part of an interactive television system. It can be used by the viewer to select the shows that they want to watch, view show schedules and give advanced options like ordering products shown in ads, as well as accessing email and Internet.


Interactive television is also known simply as interactive TV.

Techopedia Explains Interactive Television

Interactive television refers to technology where traditional TV services are combined with data services. The major aim of interactive TV is to provide an engaging experience to the viewer.

Interactive TV allows various forms of interaction, such as:

  • Interacting with the TV set
  • Interacting with the program content
  • Interacting with TV-related content
  • Interactive TV services
  • Closed-circuit interactive television

Interactive TV is similar to converged TV services, but should not be confused with it. Interactive TV is delivered through pay-TV set-top boxes, whereas converged TV services are delivered using Internet connectivity and Web-based services with the help of over-the-top boxes like Roku or gaming consoles.

Interactive TV increases engagement levels by allowing user participation and feedback. It can also become part of a connected living room and be controlled using devices other than the remote control, like mobile phones and tablets.

The return path is the channel that is used by viewers to send informationback to the broadcaster. This path can be established using a cable, telephone lines or any data communications technology. The most commonly used return path is a broadband IP connection.

However, when iTV is delivered through a terrestrial aerial, there is no return path, and hence data cannot be sent back to the broadcaster. But in this case, interactivity can be made possible with the help of appropriate application downloaded onto the set-top box.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.