Scott Newnam

Aug 2, 2004  •  Post A Comment

After a long record spotted with false starts, interactive television appears to have gained some traction here in the United States, with Scott Newnam, CEO of GoldPocket Interactive, standing at the center of it all. Mr. Newnam’s company has become the leader in interactive TV, with a 75 percent market share.

GoldPocket has provided the technology for more than 6,000 hours of ITV programming for shows, such as “CSI,” “Friends” and “Survivor”; for content companies, including Time Warner, News Corp. and Disney; and for networks, such as A&E, Lifetime and Spike TV.

Despite that vast body of work, ITV remains a bit of a conundrum for the industry. Many networks and distributors haven’t fully committed to it yet, and advertisers aren’t quite sure what to do with it. Still, Mr. Newnam, 31, has remained a champion of the technology, forging ahead with two-screen interactivity and wireless ITV until the long-awaited one-screen ITV nirvana is ready for prime time.

(Viewers can use one-screen interactivity with only their TV sets and remote controls; the two-screen method requires broadcasts to be synced to another platform, typically the Internet, and for viewers to be engaged with both.)

Mr. Newnam’s patience and faith in the growing technology helped position GoldPocket at the center of this year’s most significant ITV news-the launch of the industry’s first one-screen interactive TV application in April on GSN, carried over Time Warner’s Hawaii system. GSN has worked with GoldPocket since 2002, when the cable channel, then called the Game Show Network, counted only four hours of interactive programming each week, compared with 84 hours per week today.

“I think what [Mr. Newnam] has created with GoldPocket is going to blaze the trail of what ITV is going to be in the future,” said John Roberts, senior VP, interactive, with GSN. “GoldPocket is becoming synonymous with the term ‘ITV.'”

Mr. Newnam said to expect announcements of single-screen interactivity from all major multiple system operators by the end of the year, with deployments to come this year and next. About 13 million boxes to enable one-screen ITV have already been deployed by cable and satellite providers, up from only 1 million a year ago.

“Over the next year you will see set-top box interactivity be not just a futuristic [idea] but a norm. It will be in the 30 million range by the end of next year,” he said.

Much of the coming activity is possible because Mr. Newnam kept the ITV flame alive over the past few years as the industry sorted out business plans for the new technology. “[Mr. Newnam] had a lot of foresight to say, ‘We will do everything that can be done,'” said Ben Mendelson, president of the Interactive Television Alliance.

Mr. Newnam founded GoldPocket in 1999 while still at Harvard Business School. GoldPocket produced the first interactive project for TBS’s Dinner & a Movie franchise in 2000. Among the company’s most significant projects is the work it did with “CSI: Miami” to create interactive crime solving. It also powered the technology behind DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket applications last fall.

GoldPocket will work with new network EdgeTV, a 24-hour gaming channel slated for launch next year that will offer both one- and two-screen ITV applications.