“Popstars: The Rivals” Streams Live on Web

LONDON, Oct. 24, 2002 — Granada Interactive, BT Openworld and Microsoft Corp. today announced that for the first time
“Popstars: The Rivals”
viewers can log on to the Web site http://www.itv.com/popstars/ and get up close and personal with their favorite wannabes through the new Popstars Video Lounge.

The Popstars Web site enables fans to get the latest news and gossip, chat with the stars or fellow fans, play games and download ring tones. And now, using the broadband capabilities of BT Openworld and powered by Microsoft® Windows Media®
9 Series technology, Granada Interactive is offering Popstars’ fans the latest high-quality video over the Web.

The Popstars Video Lounge offers live streaming of the weekend ITV2 shows, unique behind-the-scenes diary footage from inside the pop stars’ houses, and highlights of the most memorable moments from the shows. Granada Interactive will take advantage of two new features provided by the Windows Media 9 Series platform: The first allows Granada Interactive to embed advertisements into the live video streams, and the second allows it to protect the downloadable content through Microsoft’s digital rights management (DRM) technology.

“Granada Interactive’s ambition is to make ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ ITV’s first truly cross-platform event. We have already launched interactive TV and mobile services, and this deal is a major step toward our overall ambition,”
said Justin Judd, controller at Granada Interactive.
“By working with BT Openworld and Microsoft, we are able to significantly extend the reach of this phenomenal show and offer 1 million broadband-enabled households a richer viewing experience. We are also very excited by the additional opportunities we are able to offer our core advertisers.”

BT Openworld’s music site, dotmusic, also will feature the Popstars Video Lounge and will offer surfers news updates and the chance to win tickets to the live studio shows.

“Windows Media 9 Series offers visitors to the Popstars’ site the best video experience on the Web, while enabling Granada Interactive to offer enhanced online advertising revenue opportunities,”
said Gareth Sutcliffe, European business development manager of the Windows New Media Platforms Division at Microsoft.
“Teaming with BT Openworld and Granada Interactive showcases the new Windows Media 9 Series platform and allows the parties to deliver the first major streamed U.K. event using this technology.”

“Broadband is the perfect medium for the ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ Web site, because its fans want fast information that’s always available,”
said Alison Ritchie, chief executive officer at BT Openworld.
“BT Openworld’s involvement, from both a broadband and dotmusic perspective, means that more people will be swept up by this national phenomenon.”

About Windows Media

Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The new Windows Media 9 Series will power the next wave of digital media, delivering the best playback experience, unmatched audio and video quality, integrated optional digital rights management technology, and the most comprehensive platform for developing digital media products and services. The Windows Media platform includes Windows Media Player; Windows Media Services, the powerful streaming server for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media DRM for protecting content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers. Windows Media Player, available in 26 languages, is the fastest-growing and now leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ .

About BT Openworld

BT Openworld, BT’s mass-market Internet division, is one of the United Kingdom’s leading Internet service providers and the United Kingdom’s No. 1 in unmetered access. It delivers broadband and narrowband services to more than 1.8 million business and consumer customers in the United Kingdom through http://www.btopenworld.com/ .

The company offers a wide range of Internet access packages and payment options. Broadband packages include: BT Openworld Home 500 Plug & Go and Business 500 Plug & Go — self-install broadband products. Other products cover a choice of download speeds, from up to 500Kbps, to up to 2Mbps, single- or multiuser setups for PC or Mac, and static or dynamic IP addresses. BT Openworld also provides broadband over satellite for business users.

Narrowband products include: BT Openworld Anytime, BT Openworld Surftime, BT Openworld Connect/Connect Lite Anytime — designed specifically for business customers and pay-as-you-go services. BT Openworld also provides additional value-added services to business users, such as Wireless LAN, Teleworker and Web Design solutions.

This year BT Openworld has launched four sites aimed at computer gamers, music fans, classical music lovers, and sports and betting enthusiasts: http://www.gamesdomain.co.uk/ , http://www.dotmusic.com/ , http://www.btopenworld.com/classical/ and http://www.btopenworld.com/sport/ .

Alison Ritchie is the chief executive officer of BT Openworld.

About Granada

Granada Interactive is a fully integrated production department providing interactive content and solutions for the entire range of Granada program production output, including the ever-popular sites for
“Coronation Street,” “Blind Date”
“This Morning”
as well as new programs such as
“Ant & Dee’s Saturday Takeaway”
“I’m a Celebrity Get Me Outta Here.”

Granada Interactive is unique in combining interactive television, Internet and mobile production skills within one team, enabling a truly cross-platform marketing tool to engage the audience. In addition to working with other internal Granada departments, Granada Interactive is increasingly successful in attracting third-party clients in the retail, education and public sectors.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .