AccessDTV Plans to Bring Interactive Digital Cable to PCs

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Start-up digital cable company AccessDTV plans to introduce a converter in the next three months that will enable consumers to receive and interact with TV programming on personal computers.

AccessDTV is targeting frequent online users age 18 to 35 and high-income users age 30 to 49.

"AccessDTV was driven by three large trends: a shift from analog to digital, conversions between the PC and television and the move toward interactivity," said Doug Leech, chief operating officer at AccessDTV, Research Triangle Park, NC.

The system's software is a Microsoft Windows application. An adapter will allow users to plug their cable wire into the computer, and an antenna will allow over-the-air reception.

Among AccessDTV's services are clickable TV listings, the ability to save programming to hard drives, and the ability to pause and replay programming.

"A viewer might be able to click on a Web link to 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' to be immediately connected to that program's interactive Web page," Leech said.

The interactive program guide will feature designated spaces where television programs can place banner ads that will connect a viewer to that advertised program.

"If a viewer sees a BMW ad on the video window, he may be able to click on a BMW banner ad on the upper edge of the window connecting him to the company's Web site," Leech said.

AccessDTV plans to collect the user's clickstream and demographic information on a permission basis.

"A Chevy banner ad can be customized almost to the doorbell level through profiling," Leech said, adding that details on the types of ad targeting that will be available are being worked out. Leech said the company is in discussions with potential advertisers, but he said it is too early to disclose specifics.

The AccessDTV converter will retail for less than $500, Leech said. AccessDTV also might offer it on an undetermined monthly subscription basis. It will be sold directly through the Web site and in retail computer and electronic locations.

The company also is placing 10-, 15- and 30-second television advertisements promoting the system and directing consumers to the company Web site. Leech added that over the course of the first quarter this year, the company will run television spots in roughly 50 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and Indianapolis.

AccessDTV is in the process of producing banner ads that will link consumers to the company Web site. The ads will be placed on the Web sites of Capital Broadcasting Co.'s affiliate stations along with the sites of other undisclosed broadcast and local cable stations.

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