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07.08.2009
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Never.no allows viewers to interact with Tour de France coverage

Interactive technology from software provider Never.no is allowing viewers to watch and interact with commentators during the 96th annual Tour de France bicycle race on Norway’s TV 2. Based in Bergen, TV 2 is the largest commercial television station in Norway.

The interactive video platform by never.no enables audience participation by modifying the video stream based on live, user-submitted opinions and content. It can function with traditional TV, Web TV, IPTV and mobile TV platforms.

Viewers of the Tour de France can interact with one another and with commentators during the race, which began on July 4 and runs through July 26. Using Twitter, other Web interfaces, and text or image messages from their mobile phones, viewers can post photos, comment on the action and respond to polls or questions posed by the broadcaster or by other viewers. Their input takes effect on Web and broadcast television in almost real time.

“With the Tour de France this year, Norway’s largest commercial broadcaster became — as far as we know — the first sports broadcaster in the world to fully integrate and synchronize viewer interaction through mobile phones (SMS/MMS), Twitter, Web chats, Web TV and broadcast television," said Lars Lauritzsen, CEO of never.no. “We expect that avid fans’ ability to express themselves in conversation with other fans and with TV experts will create a unified social experience, transforming the disorganized cycle racing fan base into a loyal TV 2 sports community.”

For its coverage of the bicycle race, TV 2 relied on never.no’s Interactivity Suite — four software applications that enable media owners to integrate user-submitted content into their programming; track viewers and consumers from medium to medium; communicate with them individually; and tailor content to suit them.

With the latest version, never.no has enhanced the Interactivity Suite’s Auto Dialogue System (ADS) to enable interaction with Twitter, and the Tour de France represents the first live national broadcast to take advantage of the new capability. Relying on Twitter and similar applications, TV 2 journalists can instantaneously share their thoughts about the race and incorporate audience buzz into their coverage.

Havard Myklebust, TV 2 managing editor and head of acquisition, said “We think our audience will enjoy the immediacy of seeing snapshots in almost real time taken by fans on the route or at the finish line.”



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