The broadcasters will push Web content like news, stock tickers, and programming information to viewers in conjunction with regular programming. One of the participants, Oregon Public Broadcasting, will also send supplementary educational data.
The technology capitalizes on an used portion of the cable transmission signal called the Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI). Microsoft employs WavePhore's WaveTop technology, while Intel promotes a similar technology dubbed Intercast. Both are intended to complement television programming.
Viewers can access the VBI data using PCs that offer Windows 98, or with WebTV Plus set-top boxes that have been upgraded with software that will be available this year. Microsoft has previously said that Windows 98 will feature WaveTop technology in its PC broadcasting architecture for handling and displaying broadcast Web content.
According to Microsoft, over 65 million households will have access to supplementary Web content on their TVs by this spring.
Broadcasters Capitol Broadcasting, Citytv, Cox Broadcasting, E.W. Scripps, Guth-Renker, KCTS-PBS, MuchMusic, New England Cable News, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Paramount Stations Group, Sinclair, and WFLA-TV will all be involved in the trials. Microsoft will provide the broadcasters with the required server computers and hardware.