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DirecTV Gets Into the Game

Aug 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

As part of its effort to continue enhancing its televised sports content, DirecTV is preparing to offer hundreds of hours of free interactive U.S. Open-related fare.

The satellite outfit is teaming with USA Network and the United States Tennis Association for the second year to provide more than 300 hours of interactive coverage of the tennis tournament as a service to its subscribers.

The news follows DirecTV’s announcement last week that for the first time, the company will make programming from its NFL Sunday Ticket package available to fans through live Web-streamed games and on-demand highlights for mobile phone users through its Supercast service.

“By offering more access to NFL content by mobile phone or online, more HD games and new interactive features, we have established our exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket service as the most compelling sports TV viewing experience anywhere in the world,” said Eric Shanks, executive vice president of DirecTV Entertainment.

Tennis fans also are rapidly embracing DirecTV’s interactive technology “as the best way to watch tournament action and thoroughly immerse themselves in coverage that, in terms of its sheer volume and feature-rich display, is just not available anywhere else,” Mr. Shanks said. “The marketplace is recognizing the value of these services, and DirecTV is excited to be working with a forward-thinking broadcaster like USA to deliver them directly to its audience.”

The interactive U.S. Open coverage this year will feature a number of upgrades over last year’s offerings, including two new on-screen features.

A new “Matches on Now” feature will list the matches currently taking place, the scores of each match and the DirecTV channel on which the match is featured. Users will be able to tune directly to any match.

Meanwhile, a “Matches on Later” feature will list full match schedules for each of the five featured courts, including start times and channel numbers. Viewers also will be able to tune directly to any of the respective channels using this feature.

With the U.S. Open interactive service, customers will be able to watch five channels of expanded coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET throughout the U.S. Open’s first five days of matches.

In addition, a special U.S. Open Mix channel will feature all of these matches plus USA’s coverage simultaneously, with live onscreen scoring of all the matches.

Interactive usage data from last year’s tournament coverage showed that more than one-third of DirecTV customers with interactive receivers are using the interactive TV features, a figure that aligns with viewer-participation data from other DirecTV interactive sports packages, according to the company.

While USA Network’s telecast of the tournament will sign off between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily, DirecTV will continue to offer the remainder of any matches broadcast by USA that started before 5 p.m. During breaks in the on-court action, DirecTV’s expanded coverage will include live interviews and press conferences taking place in the U.S. Open press room at Flushing Meadows.

Likewise, DirecTV’s new NFL-related features are devised to keep football fans in the loop on their sport in real time.

“With NFL Sunday Ticket Supercast and our new mobile service providing virtually unlimited access to NFL Sunday Ticket games and highlights, Supercast customers can stay on top of all the action every Sunday, whether they’re away from home, out of the country or at brunch with their in-laws,” Mr. Shanks said.

The Supercast service, which will be available to Sunday Ticket subscribers, will allow users to get Internet access to any of the DirecTV games or receive in-progress highlights as well as scores and clock updates through their mobile phone.

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