Microsoft Enables Broadcasters to Deliver Data Using Traditional Broadcast Methods
REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 17, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that it is working with 12 broadcasters and cable programmers in a series of nationwide trials using a portion of the television signal known as the vertical blanking interval (VBI) to broadcast data and program enhancements into U.S. homes. Microsoft® Windows® 98 broadcast-enabled PCs will be capable of receiving and displaying this data, as will current Web TV Plus boxes with a free WebTV Plus software upgrade scheduled to be available later this year.
Television broadcasters and cable programmers involved in the trials include: Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc., Citytv, Cox Broadcasting, The E.W. Scripps Co., Guthy-Renker, KCTS-PBS, MuchMusic, New England Cable News, Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Paramount Stations Group, Sinclair (SBGI), and WFLA-TV.
Participating television broadcasters will be able to send data – such as tickers with national news, sports, stocks, headlines and programming news – to computer users tuned to their channel. The VBI delivery system allows stations to “broadcast” data in the form of Web pages that can be stored on a computer hard drive and viewed later. This data can be delivered on request via late-night data downloads that do not tie up consumers’ phone lines.
In addition, this capability is an immediate way to begin adding enhancements to television programs before digital television is introduced in the United States. Enhancements will consist of Web-based content that is synchronized and broadcast with television programs. The current trials allow the participating companies to explore consumer interest and develop business models for enhanced content to prepare for digital television when it is widely deployed next year.
“At Citytv and MuchMusic we have a reputation for using the latest technologies to make the most interactive TV programming imaginable,” said Mark Rubinstein, vice president and general manager, Chum Television. “With Microsoft’s support, our VBI trials will keep us on the cutting edge.”
Microsoft supplied broadcasters with the hardware and software necessary for the trials. Each broadcaster received a PC server running the Windows NT® Server operating system version 4.0, hardware required for VBI injections, and broadcast server software developed by Microsoft that uses standard Internet IP multicasting protocols.
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