Profile: John Roberts

Sep 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: Senior VP, interactive and online entertainment, Game Show Network.
Background: Mr. Roberts worked for Paul Allen’s Vulcan Programming II as senior VP of Internet and ITV development. He has also served as VP of new media for Fox Family Worldwide, where he oversaw Internet development for the networks’ Web sites.
The Holy Grail: Mr. Roberts joined Game Show Network in 2001. “It’s the Holy Grail of interactive content-game shows. As a kid I remember being home sick from school and covering the bottom of the TV screen and trying to come up with an answer before it was displayed. That was the archaic version of ITV,” he said. Today Game Show Network is heavily invested in a state-of-the-art version of ITV. The network counts more than 40 hours per week of interactive content following its Sept. 2 launch of the ITV component of its show “Lingo.” All those hours have been added over the past year as the network began to move aggressively with launching originals after Game Show Network president Rich Cronin came on board. The interactive component of the originals is vital since it helps drive distribution and attract a younger demographic, Mr. Roberts said. Of the interactive audience, 86 percent falls in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic, he said.
Interactive Emmy: Mr. Roberts served on the judging committee for the first interactive Emmy, which was awarded this summer to HBO’s “Band of Brothers.” “What the interactive Emmy said to me was this is real and is happening now. When you have 73 submissions, it shows networks are taking it seriously and the audience is there and this is a reality and it will help the future of advertising,” he said. Interactivity incorporated into advertisements can reward viewers for watching the ads, he said. In fact, 89 percent of the network’s interactive audience interacts with the ads.
Future of ITV: “ITV allows me to lean forward and have a more compelling experience with what I am watching,” he said. At the moment, the network’s interactivity exists online as a play-along component to the on-air games. Mr. Roberts expects that within three to five years ITV functions will be readily available on one screen controlled by a remote.