Intercast was a technology that allowed PC users to access a single live TV channel and receive associated extra information via the Internet. User requirements included a TV tuner card in the PC (or a set-top box for the TV), a decoding program called Intel Intercast Viewer, and an Internet connection from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which could be used to browse information not being broadcast or stored on the PC. All Intercast information was transmitted in only the downstream direction (to the TV viewer).
Intercast was developed in 1996 by Intel. Intel’s support for Intercast was withdrawn a few years later.
TV networks participating in Intercast were CNN, NBC, MTV2 (then M2) and The Weather Channel.
Data for Intercast was embedded in the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of the received video signal. VBI was present in analog TV, Video Graphics Array (VGA), Digital Video Interface (DVI), and other broadcast signals. Intercast’s maximum transmission rate was 10.5 KBps in 10 of the 45 VBI lines. Modern digital equipment does not require a VBI, but must be designed to be compatible with broadcast standards of older equipment to receive data from the VBI.
Intercast enabled users to watch TV and simultaneously view HTML pages in a separate window. Software could also be downloaded as part of the Intercast signal. Data complementing a TV program might include additional details about the TV program or additional news and weather data accompanying a news broadcast.
Several TV tuner card manufacturers bundled Intercast software with their product. Compaq even offered some computer models with built-in tuner cards along with the Intercast software.