CBS to use interactivity with select shows

March 7, 2005

CBS plans to create interactive components for selected network television shows. The experimentation began last week with “Survivor: Palau.”

David Katz, CBS senior vice president of strategic planning and interactive ventures, told Reuters that the interactive elements are being custom-designed for each show.

For “Survivor,” this includes facts, information, statistics and knowledge challenges about the island, the players and the strategy, “timed not to distract from the show but to enhance it,” Katz said. The network will also create poll questions and other activities to develop a community aspect to certain programs.

These new interactive features will be available through late model digital set-top boxes. Some 15 million such boxes are in use today, mostly deployed by cable operators and satellite TV provider EchoStar through its DISH network.

Katz declined to say which shows besides “Survivor” would have interactivity. The network has partnered with Los Angeles-based GoldPocket Interactive on the project. The technology behind the interactivity, which the companies said is compatible with all operators’ systems, also is available to advertisers who want that element added to their message. Business terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CBS has previously ventured into interactive programming with such shows as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” March Madness basketball coverage and the Grammys telecast, most of which used Microsoft’s MSN TV platform precursor, WebTV.

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