Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was once one of the best applications of interactive television, transforming the programme for anyone playing along at home. So the consistent failure to deliver a successful experience could potentially be damaging to the development of interactivity.
A fortnight ago they played out the wrong questions on ITV in the UK, so as far as the interactive application was concerned, the branch of the arts with which British conductor Jane Glover is most associated was Kew Gardens.
Disappointingly, they got it wrong again this week, running the questions from last week. So, which of these is featured in Ludwig Beethoven’s full name: Billy Idol, Suggs, Shakin’ Stevens, or Meatloaf? Classical music perhaps not a forté at ITV, shall we ask the audience?
What is the name of the wife of former MP Neil Hamilton? Would that be Meatloaf, Chris? Can I phone a friend?
Who ‘stole the tarts, and took them clean away’? Could it be Meatloaf or Shakin’ Stevens? Can I go fifty-fifty?
Unfortunately, the questions carried on throughout the commercial break, including a dramatic road safety spot – an unfortunate juxtaposition for a show sponsored by a car company. Final answer?
At least there were no complaints from viewers, according to the ITV call centre. From a Saturday night audience of over five million, was anyone interacting? If they consistently receive a bad experience, what does that mean for the future of interactive advertising?
So the million pound question for ITV, Celador, and their sponsors, is if you can’t be sure that you’ll get it right on the night, do you continue to gamble or walk away?
Celador International, which owns the programme format, points out that while ITV, who manage the interactivity on their channel, admit that there have recently been problems with the interactive application, the service has been running very successfully since 2002.