WebTV Networks Announces New Lineup of Enhanced Series and Specials For the 1999-2000 Season, as Interactive TV Becomes a Reality

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Sept. 29, 1999 — WebTV Networks, Inc., a leading provider of enhanced TV services using Internet and digital technologies, today announced an impressive lineup of television series and specials that will be enhanced with interactive features this season. Subscribers to the Microsoft® WebTV Network TM Plus service will be able to check out sports statistics, receive additional information, buy show-related products, play along with game shows and chat with other fans while watching some of their favorite shows on NBC, HBO, Discovery Channel, Home & Garden Television, MSNBC, PBS, E! Entertainment Television, The Learning Channel and The Weather Channel. The three leading syndicated series,
“Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!”
“Judge Judy,”
will also be interactive.

The newest additions to the interactive slate are
“The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Dateline NBC”
“The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”
WebTV Networks also announced that the specials
“Great Quakes”
on The Learning Channel and
“In Search of Liberty Bell 7”
on Discovery Channel will be enhanced with interactive polls, trivia games, simulations and infographics.

In other new interactive programming developments, the interactive version of the syndicated series
“Judge Judy,”
from Big Ticket Television, which now airs on Fridays, will begin to air five days a week this season, while NBC Sports has added interactive elements to Notre Dame football broadcasts, which began Sept. 25, 1999. E! Entertainment Television, which launched an interactive enhancement of
“Coming Attractions”
earlier this year, will add
“E! Interactive Daily,”
providing current entertainment news, upcoming E! show information and other interactive features, which will be available alongside E! programming throughout the day.

“WebTV is truly excited by the diversity and quality of the interactive programming that will be available this season and is committed to working with the broadcast industry to create and deliver more interactive content for our subscribers,”
says Bruce Leak, president of WebTV Networks.
“With 350 hours of interactive programming available each week, the top three syndicated television programs, and shows on nine broadcast and cable networks, interactive TV is now a reality.”

“Our programming providers are the heroes. They have created the content that makes interactive television compelling,”
says Joe Poletto, vice president of the Network Media Group at WebTV Networks.
“We are proud, as well as thrilled, to be working with them to take TV to the next stage in its evolution.”

Television industry interest in interactive TV programming is on the rise. According to Josh Bernoff, analyst at Forrester Research Inc., as quoted in Newsday,
“Interactive TV has gone from being a laughing-stock to becoming a potentially massive revenue generator.”

The WebTV® Plus service combines the Internet with powerful television features to provide an improved, interactive TV-viewing experience, in addition to Internet access and e-mail capability. For example, subscribers to the WebTV Plus service can get more information, play along with game shows and chat with other fans while watching their favorite programs. The WebTV Plus service is available via the WebTV Plus Internet Receiver and EchoStar’s DISHPlayer unit, which offers advanced TV features such as the ability to pause programs in progress for up to 30 minutes and then resume watching.

To celebrate the arrival of the interactive television age, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and WebTV Networks are collaborating in a gala premiere event for this season’s interactive shows on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills, Calif. The event, which benefits the foundation’s Archive of American Television, will be the last party at the longtime Hollywood landmark. Programming providers will unveil their interactive shows at the event.

Among the interactive series and specials previously announced for the new season are the world’s most popular game shows,
“Wheel of Fortune”
and Jeopardy!
“; HBO’s”
World Championship Boxing
“; and Home & Garden Television’s”
Restore America.

MSNBC and The Weather Channel, which have been offering 24-hour, 7-day-a-week interactive programming since earlier this year, will be adding more interactive features in the coming months.

About WebTV Networks

WebTV Networks, Inc., is a leading provider of enhanced TV services using Internet and digital technologies. WebTV Networks offers a range of enhanced TV services for set-top boxes, satellite products and other TV-related devices. Today, these services include the WebTV Classic service, the WebTV Plus service and the WebTV Plus service for satellite. WebTV Networks owns and operates a network of TV services and provides enabling software and hardware reference designs to consumer electronics manufacturers.

WebTV Networks, based in Mountain View, Calif., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. Microsoft incorporates WebTV technologies in the Microsoft TV software platform, which it licenses to television network operators worldwide.

Microsoft, WebTV Network and WebTV are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other products and company names mentioned herein may be 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.

Related Posts