ESPN to Introduce New Interactive Television Products in 2009
Just in time for new years’
resolutions, ESPN is reinforcing its commitment to interactive television by
enabling viewers to interact with the network’s sports programming simply using
their remote control. Beginning in the summer of 2009, ESPN will introduce three
new applications designed to serve the fan — and help the company’s cable,
satellite and telco affiliates grow their businesses in the process.
All three products will be designed
to utilize technology that already exists in millions of cable homes. Two of
the new products will use EBIF middleware, which is widely deployed in set top
boxes nationwide. The third will utilize the new Tru2way technology, which will
allow for more robust services and is being now included in set top boxes and
consumer electronics devices available at retail throughout the U.S.
“ESPN has always been a leader when
it comes to innovation and technology,” says Sean Bratches, EVP, sales and
marketing. “And we know that our fans tend to be early adopters of technology. Now
with iTV technology more widely available and of more importance to our
affiliates and our advertisers, we want to enhance the fan experience at home.
We believe these applications will be hugely popular and further advance
interactive television in the industry.”
Increased interactivity will allow
ESPN to bring elements of the Internet to the television platform. Viewers will
be able to create customized data feeds and participate in on-screen voting and
polling by taking advantage of technology that is already built into their
cable box. The primary interactive features of each product are outlined below,
though their official names have yet to be finalized.
ESPN My Vote (EBIF) – An interactive voting and
polling feature that will be available during each live airing of
College Football Live, College Football telecasts, Major League Baseball
Baseball Tonight, with the potential to add additional
programming before or after launch.
ESPN In Game Extra (EBIF) – Will allow viewers the
opportunity to obtain additional stats and information — player tracking,
scores, standings, schedules — during live events.
My Bottom Line (Tru2way) – Available in shows
where ESPN currently displays a bottom line, this will allow fans to customize
the scrolling information that appears on their screens. For example, a St. Louis fan could program the bottom line to include
only St. Louis
scores, no matter where they live. The application will also give additional
access to stats, standings, and research plus national polls, and can be
programmed to provide information about fantasy players.
ESPN plans to incorporate
ESPN In Game Extra into more than 3,000 events and shows
per calendar year. Each of the three
products will include specific advertising overlays.
“We have seen renewed interest in
iTV not only from our customers but also from our advertisers, who are always
looking for new ways to engage consumers,” Bratches adds. “We’re excited to
bring the combined power of sports and these products to the market.”