REDMOND, Wash., and ALAMEDA, Calif., June 3, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. and Wink Communications Inc. today announced an agreement to promote interactive content and commerce based on the specification for Interactive Television of the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF). Wink Communications will optimize its Response Network Service, which provides the broadcast and cable television industries with viewer-response services, to support ATVEF-compliant content for television devices that make use of the Microsoft® television software platform. Microsoft will, in turn, use Wink’s Response Network to handle certain ATVEF-based advertising direct response services. As part of the agreement, Microsoft invested $30 million in Wink Communications.
Wink will be providing ATVEF-capable enhanced television tools for broadcast and cable television networks and advertisers. The combined offerings of the two companies will help accelerate the wide adoption of interactive television, which initially will be realized through TV-based electronic-commerce and advertising responses. Microsoft and Wink will cooperate to promote to the industry enhanced broadcasting, viewer-response services and the ATVEF specification. The Microsoft WebTV Network TM service will make Wink’s services available to its customers. The agreement underscores the two companies’ commitment to enable future television devices and networks for standards-based client technology built on the ATVEF specification and the Microsoft television software platform.
“Wink is a leading-edge provider of direct response services for television advertisers, and I look forward to a collaboration that offers enhanced services to WebTV® Network service subscribers and advertisers,” said Bruce Leak, president of WebTV Networks, Inc. “I applaud Wink’s technical commitment to enable ATVEF-based content as its priority.”
Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Wink Communications said, “We are interested in accelerating the market for interactive television, and we’ve been an ATVEF adopter for some time now. Our goal is to incorporate ATVEF into all of our tools and accelerate the deployment of enhanced broadcasting and interactive services. Our relationship with Microsoft will make that happen even faster, as Wink and its customers will benefit from Microsoft’s industry leadership in developing software for enhanced television devices and in providing enhanced television services directly to consumers.”
Wink Response Network Services and Broadcast Tools
Wink Response Network Services provide cable and network operators with the ability to collect television viewer responses generated from interactive television commercials and programming based on the ATVEF specification. Viewers can request information from advertisers or even order products with a click of their remote control. These responses are routed to Wink’s data center for fulfillment. Wink Broadcast Tools enable television programmers and advertisers to create and broadcast interactive enhancements synchronized with digital or analog video.
Advanced Television Enhancement Forum
The ATVEF specification defines a content format for interactive television based on industry standards such as HTML and IP Multicast. Content based on the ATVEF specification can be delivered by analog and digital terrestrial, satellite and cable systems and received on any ATVEF-compliant set-top box, digital television or PC, eliminating the need for adopters to develop multiple versions of their programming.
The Advanced Television Enhancement Forum has 14 founding members and almost 50 adopters representing broadcast and cable networks, television stations, cable and satellite service providers, consumer electronics and PC and software vendors. The forum’s mission is to accelerate the deployment of interactive content and services for television. The specification and more information about ATVEF is available at http://www.atvef.com/ .
About Wink Communications
Wink Communications is the originator of Wink Enhanced Broadcasting and Wink Smart Commercials. Wink provides the products to create interactive TV content and the services for collecting viewer responses. Wink’s services are being used for mass market interactive television and television-based e-commerce with industry-leading programmers including NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, TBS, ESPN and The Weather Channel; advertisers including Procter & Gamble, Charles Schwab, AT & T, and General Electric; and cable and satellite network operators including Time Warner Cable, AT & T/TCI, Comcast, Cox, Charter and DIRECTV.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft, WebTV Network and WebTV are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
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