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Showtime, DISH get interactive using DVR as the centerpiece

Fri, 02/16/2007 - 6:59am
Jeff Baumgartner, CED

Showtime Networks will leverage EchoStar receivers with on-board digital video recorders to launch a newly-upgraded interactive television initiative.

That effort, dubbed Showtime Interactive 2.0, will pull video loaded on the DVR to fuel the interactive TV environment. The system will allow customers to access trailers, behind-the-scenes videos, celebrity interviews and other video-based extras tied to Showtime movies and originals such as "Dexter," "Weeds," and "The L Word." The platform will also list every show airing on all 10 Showtime linear channels and enable customers to schedule DVR recordings.

A portion of the DVR's hard drive will be allocated to house the video components for Showtime Interactive 2.0.

The new interactive environment will also look to lure new Showtime customers using a "self-provisioning" app that will allow EchoStar customers to sign up for the premium service with the click of a remote. To subscribe, customers will simply click a "Get Showtime" button on the TV screen.

Showtime said the interactive system is smart enough to detect whether the EchoStar customer is a subscriber.

"Through our collaborative efforts with Dish Network, we have been able to leverage their technology to create an application that combines iTV, DVR and self-provisioning capabilities," said Robert Hayes, SVP and GM of Showtime's Digital Media Group.

"2.0" follows two years of development between Showtime and EchoStar, he added.

EchoStar has more than 13 million customers, but not all of them have a receiver with DVR capabilities. The DBS giant, however, has continued to leverage its DVR base to push its own version of "video-on-demand." Rather than using an interactive two-way network for VOD, such as cable does, EchoStar feeds movies and other content to the hard drive for later playback by the customer.

EchoStar's VOD content library was expanded in December with the addition of New Line Cinema fare.

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