SBJ/July 17 - 23, 2006/Media

ESPN, Dish Network to follow Interactive Indy with X Games channel

ESPN and Dish Network are teaming for their second interactive TV application with plans to launch an ESPN Interactive X Games channel around the Summer X Games, Aug. 3-6 in Los Angeles.

The Indy 500 feature drew 550,000 users.
The feature will be similar to the Interactive Indy channel the two rolled out at the end of May for ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500. It will have six camera feeds, taped content from earlier in the day, stats and bios. It will be featured on Dish’s Home Channel 100 from 9-11 p.m. ET each night and will be free to Dish Network subscribers.

Interactive Indy wound up being a popular feature for Dish, logging 550,000 users, according to Matt Murphy, ESPN senior vice president of broadband and interactive sales. Dish Network has 12.2 million subscribers.

Murphy said the interactive applications represent “a place for us to start on ITV.” EchoStar, which runs Dish Network, and ESPN plan to launch ITV channels around six events per year, centered on events where ESPN holds the interactive rights.

With the Dish Network channels not being exclusive, Murphy expects cable operators to begin delivering the interactive applications this year. He also predicted that ESPN’s linear channels would roll out ITV applications soon.

ESPN’s push into the ITV space comes after a year’s absence, after ESPN ended ITV deals with DirecTV and Cablevision.

“It’s good to be back in the game,” Murphy said. “The ITV environment has been full of fits and starts, but I firmly believe its time is now.”

Though ESPN signed Capital One as a sponsor for Interactive Indy, its Interactive X Games channel will not have a sponsor, Murphy said, citing timing problems.

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