A survey of American viewers suggests that interactive television could be a driver for digital cable services.

A third of basic cable subscribers reported an interest in switching to digital cable if one or more interactive features described to them were available.

Local services were seen as most important, with 42% of those surveyed saying that they would be very or somewhat interested in such services, rising to 50% of those already have digital cable and 59% for those that had a cable modem, while 80% of those that expressed an interest in switching to digital.

On-screen caller identification to display the name and number of the person calling was of interest to 38% of respondents. Playing games was of interest to 35% of those questioned, while 33% were interested in choosing camera angles, and just 29% expressed an interest in voting or getting background information on characters in a programme.

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults across the United States was commissioned by CTAM, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing. Of those surveyed, 64% were cable customers, including 32% with premium cable and 21% with digital cable, while 25% had satellite.

Conveniently, local services and on-screen caller identification are both features that can be offered by digital cable, which is facing increasing competition from satellite operators that are beginning to roll out interactive services.