News

Dish, DirecTV Tout ITV Features for Sports Fans

8/08/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

The Beijing Olympics and PGA Championship last week gave satellite-TV providers Dish Network and DirecTV a chance to tout new interactive television applications that give their subscribers a chance to dive deeper into those events.

Dish Network and applications provider Ensequence said they would offer a mosaic showing six channels of NBC Universal coverage of Olympic events from Aug. 8-24 to more than 12 million of Dish’s 13.8 million subscribers.

Ensequence software also enables Dish viewers of the Games to use their remote control to call up athlete profiles, get breaking news, view video highlights of other events, track each country’s medal count, learn more about featured sponsors, see the Team USA report and learn more about Beijing and the various event venues.

NBCU is carrying Olympic event coverage on CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen, USA Network and two Olympic highlights channels, the channels that can be watched in a mosaic on Dish.

Dish previously worked with Ensequence to let viewers vote while watching Bravo’s Top Chef 3 Miami and on interactive-advertising applications.

DirecTV — which is carrying the six Olympics channels and offering on-demand highlights and other VOD features from NBCU — isn’t offering a mosaic feature this time around, according to spokesman Robert Mercer. But it will carry an NBC Olympics guide to help viewers easily locate events and coverage. Other features include an updated medals count and an interactive quiz that provides viewers with Olympics news.

DirecTV also will run periodic crawls for non-interactive customers on USA, CNBC and MSNBC (at their regular viewer channel location) during live-event coverage, inviting viewers to tune directly to the Olympics channels range for the best experience of the Games, Mercer said.

DirecTV last week augmented PGA Championship coverage on TNT and CBS by offering viewers the chance to watch expanded coverage for free and in high definition.

The leading satellite-TV provider (17 million subscribers) has offered similar in-depth, expanded coverage of major sporting events this year including the U.S. Open golf and tennis tournaments and The Masters golf tournament in April.

The PGA Championship Mix Channel (Channel 701) featured a leaderboard on the left side of the screen and displayed the following four views: live network coverage; a single group’s progress around the course, with announcers providing insight on the live play; a focus on two of the challenging par-3 holes on the Oakland Hills South Course or Players In Depth, a show with interviews, highlights, press conferences, graphics and up-to-the-minute stats.

Separately, on the online front, Versus said it did a deal with Jacked of Santa Monica, Calif., to integrate its Jacked SportTop application into Versus.com.

The application, tested with this year’s Stanley Cup Finals hockey games, let fans use their computers to call up trivia, team photos, news and features related to the content shown on television.

Versus will use the application during future NHL games, as well as coverage of the Pac-10, Big 12 and Mountain West conferences. Viewers also can use the application to chat with other fans.

Linda Haugsted contributed to this story.

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