Interactive – Freeview and early DTT

Back when digital TV first launched many broadcasters were free to experiment with the benefit that digital tv had to offer. Not only did we get an avalanche of channels, we also got interactive services which were to extend what Teletext/Ceefax offered.

These screenshots were captured and were uploaded to a site DTT NEWS, which has long gone offline. They have been archived here for a look at the early days of Freeview and interactive digital TV. Sadly what the screenshots do not capture is the long time it took for the ONdigital box to load the pages. Also some boxes didn’t support interactive at all, with the Sony and Toshiba lacking any MHEG5 support. I’m not sure why these boxes didn’t get interactive support, maybe Sony & Toshiba didn’t stick to the specifications and were not able to port the MHEG5 API? Memory limitations?

These screenshots are of Freeview/ONdigital DDT only, and will differ from what was offered by Sky or the cable services of the time (ntl/Telewest)

Teletext

The digital successor to ‘analogue’ text which was promised to be faster and more efficient, the drawback was the early ONDigital boxes had slow CPUs (The Nokia 9850T has a Texas Instruments 40Mhz ARM CPU) which meant it was slower than the analogue Teletext, Teletext was later axed and only the holidays branch remains.

I should mention that analogue Teletext/Ceefax itself is actually digital, its just transmitted within the vacant PAL lines, whilst digital teletext are MHEG applets that are part of the digital transport stream. You can also have both analogue and digital text at the same time, and have the STB regenerate the analogue teletext signals which are decoded by your TV, this also worked for subtitles (888)

Channel 4

FourText was Channel4’s digital text service which also covered FilmFour, now known as Film4. Like ITV’s services, these complement Channel 4’s programming.

BBCi

BBCi, previously BBC Text and now known as BBC Red Button was the replacement for Ceefax and made use of the MHEG functionality offered by DTT. The BBC operated three interactive channels known as 701, 702 and 703 which were used to offer extended coverage of sporting events and behind the scenes interactive features.

The BBCi bar was used to locate and find listings across the 6 BBC digital channels, it only functioned on the BBC channels.

Saturday Show

The Saturday Show was the replacement for Live&Kickng and competed with SM:tv, a few games and activities are offered with this service while the show was being broascast.

ITV Brit Awards

To complement the yearly ITV Brit awards, the interactive service offered updates, simple games and sponsor zones.

This Morning

This Morning was sponsored by LearnDirect, and was advertised on their interactive text service. LearnDirect is a company that offered course for people to learn from home int heir own time, and this service was designed to promote that by giving details that their adverts were not able to provide.

ITV Sport

To complement the ITV Sport channel, an interactive service was launched with offers additional activities like a quiz, and a match predictor that was sponsored by Littlewoods, who still operate as an online retailer.

SMTV

If you get bored of Ant & Dec that you could access the SM:tv interactive services that featured information in relation to the current show, any competitions and KFC, back when fast food joints could sponsor kids shows until Ofcom stepped in

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s