Game Show Goes to One-Screen

Mar 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Game Show Network, which increases its current 65 hours of TV/computer two-screen interactive programming to 84 hours March 17, is teaming with its technology provider GoldPocket Interactive to introduce the simpler single-screen concept using only the TV screen. “We see one-screen happening this year in certain markets,” said John Roberts, GSN’s senior VP, interactive and online entertainment.
“The technology and set-top boxes exist that can handle one-screen interactivity. We are working with cable operators and satellite companies to figure out how to use existing boxes and create interactive elements. We’re doing prototypes and testing and are in discussion with several cable systems,” Mr. Roberts said.
“We’re working with GoldPocket to put the technology into the headend, which will allow viewers to use a wireless keyboard to interact with the TV set, so they can play along and eliminate the second screen. There’s no cost to the cable operators. As a network we’re offering free content, and GoldPocket is offering the technology.”
Right now as the leading interactive TV network, GSN provides high-speed broadband entertainment, marrying the Web to the TV medium. With a database of 850,000 participants logging on to Gameshownetwork.com-up from 6,000 less than a year ago-and primarily in the 18 to 49 age bracket, Mr. Roberts noted the largest contingent is the “hybrids” who play both TV games and GSN’s five stand-alone computer games.
TV shows offering so-called “synch-to-broadcasting enhanced programming,” which includes online game and question-and-answer components include: “Greed,” “Whammy!,” “Friend Or Foe,” “Russian Roulette,” “Wintuition,” Lingo” and “Cram.” “Greed” was the first interactive program; it began in January 2002. GoldPocket’s EventMatrix technology enables viewers to play along with the TV show while competing against other home participants for top scores, which are listed on the TV screen.
Stand-alone games using Shockwave software, which allows competition among multiple players, include: “Pokerface,” “Phrase Frenzy,” “Opinionation,” “Lingo Plus” and the new “Whammy! Plus.”
“This hybrid group loves competition,” Mr. Roberts explained, acknowledging that single-screen viewing will make life easier for this generation that relies on two screens for its interactive experiences. GSN cites a Nielsen survey that 50 million Americans view their TVs and computers in the same room.
These hard-core game buffs, who compete for prizes by playing along on their computers with TV show contestants, generally watch an entire program, according to the network. “With interactive TV they don’t switch channels because they don’t want to miss an opportunity to gain points for weekly sweepstakes prizes,” Mr. Roberts said. Sixty names are randomly drawn each week for prizes from Sony, including DVD players, DVDs, stereos, TVs, cash and GSN merchandising. The network’s co-owners are Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corp.
Leading the Charge
Mr. Roberts acknowledged that GSN’s content helps immeasurably in attracting interactive devotees. “Our content is made for the medium; that’s why we’re trying to lead the charge.” Especially by increasing its interactive TV offerings to 50 percent of its programming March 17.
This is the first year GSN has made tapping into its interactive community a value- added bonus for advertisers. Mr. Roberts indicated GSN will look to generate revenue from the interactive exposure during the upfront season this spring during the upfront season this spring. “We see this as a new frontier for advertising revenue.”