BBC gets kicks from World Cup iTV features

The BBC will give World Cup soccer viewers a number of interactive TV features including the ability to turn off the commentary and listen to natural sound, instant highlights from the current game, and even the ability to send text messages to viewers.

The services will be available on all three major digital TV platforms (satellite, cable, terrestrial) both during and between game broadcasts.

In order to access the service digital cable and satellite viewers can enter an interactive application by simply pressing a red button, whenever a “BBCi” icon appears on-screen. Over-the-air viewers on the BBC FreeView service will also have access to the features.

The application will feature a menu bar along the top of the screen, with various options linked to the colour fasttext keys of their remote controls. According to the BBC, this service has been designed with step-by-step on-screen instructions.

The red menu key will provide alternative audio streams:which allows viewers to choose between listening to commentators from BBC Radio Five Live or selecting a “No Commentary” option which allows them to listen to the sounds of the crowd.

The green menu key will provide viewers with rolling highlights-enhanced with graphics-from the current game. In addition to this, the blue menu key will allow them to access a statistics menu with a review of updated facts and figures from the current game, such as possession, corners won, fouls conceded and results and tables.

Finally, the yellow button will take viewers to an area, dubbed “Your Shout,” devoted to user-generated content, including text messages, emails and player ratings (viewers will be able to rate players via interactive TV, the Web and mobiles). The simultaneous group matches in the final group phase will also be accessible here.

Between live broadcasts, the BBC will offer a service called “BBCi World Cup Zone.” Digital cable and satellite viewers will be able to access the service by first pressing the text button on their remote to reach the BBCi-bar (appears on the bottom of the screen); then press “Select” to enter the service.

The service’s “homepage” will consist of a display with three mini-screens, providing a quick guide to what’s on currently and a schedule of upcoming games. Viewers will be able to scroll down to their preferred screen using the arrow keys on their remote and press “select” to watch it in full-screen mode.

Viewers will also be able to access an interactive service devoted primarily to the England team. It will provide interviews with team manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, coverage of press conferences, video profiles of players, news and opinions on the World Cup and repeats of England games.

In addition, viewers will be able to access 15-minute highlight reels of every game, and a reel dedicated to notable goals from the tournament. Also, Freeview viewers will be able to access the 15-minute game highlights, the goals round-up and a less comprehensive selection of content devoted to the England team.

The BBC will also offer a show, called BBC World Cup Extra, on its interactive TV platform. The show will provide analysis and commentary, after every England game and other significant games.