Interactive television may be the future of stateside TV, but no one seems to have told Joe Public.

A survey from Ipsos-Insight shows that just half of US consumers have heard of iTV, and hardly any have in-depth knowledge of what it offers.

Interactive services -- which allow viewers to play games, access information and purchase goods using their remote and/or a keyboard -- are touted as one of the next big things to hit the US media industry. In particular, Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of satellite operator DirecTV is expected to lead to interactive features similar to those offered by his UK broadcaster BSkyB.

However, Murdoch may first need to educate the American public. According to the Ipsos survey, just 11% of adults are somewhat or very familiar with iTV. Richer households are more likely to have heard of it than their less affluent counterparts, but awareness did not differ by gender, age or geographic area.

Despite this lack of knowledge, plenty of respondents seemed eager to try out iTV features. The ability to select different camera angles when viewing sporting events interested 26% of adults, more than any other feature. Other services that intrigued consumers included requesting brochures or product details (19%), accessing sports statistics (18%) and playing games (15%). Gambling on sport proved less of a draw, with only 5% saying they would be interested.

"There has been so much industry hype about iTV, we expected higher levels of consumer awareness," commented Ipsos research leader Lynne Bartos. "Programmers and content providers still have some work to do to raise awareness levels, improve consumer understanding, and get consumers excited about the features and benefits of interactive TV."

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff