The Art of the Interactive Pitch Arrives at NATPE 2000 – 21st Century-Style

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 17, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the first annual Microsoft® TV Interactive Pitch event to be hosted at NATPE 2000 in New Orleans on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 25-26, 2000, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will be held on the show floor at the Webstation Lounge Theatre, Booth 3653. Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch is designed to identify, spotlight and jump-start the hottest interactive television programming ideas and talent.

Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch is similar in concept to NATPE’s longstanding and popular NATPE at Nite: Pitch Me! session, in which TV hopefuls pitch traditional TV ideas to a distinguished panel of industry decision-makers. On Monday, Jan. 24, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., auditions will be held in which NATPE 2000 attendees* will have 60 seconds to pitch their best new interactive television program ideas to a panel of judges that includes leading Hollywood development, production and broadband executives. Anyone with a creative idea for a new interactive television program is encouraged to participate.

The event will be streamed live from the show floor on Jan. 25 and 26th at by INTERVU Inc. the official webcaster of NATPE 2000. NATPE new media partner will offer consumers the chance to vote for their favorite interactive-TV ideas on the Web site, then compare their choices with those of the industry professionals.

“This is the opportunity for the creative community with the hip ITV idea to get noticed and paired with the TV industry executives who can help make that idea a reality,”
said Marty Behrens, group manager, TV Platforms Group at Microsoft.
“We are committed to providing the tools, partners, support and leadership for content developers to create the best ITV programming for TV viewers worldwide.”

This exciting event coincides with explosive growth in the interactive television market. Working with industry partners such as Big Ticket Television, Columbia TriStar Television Group, Discovery Channel, HBO and MSNBC, WebTV Networks, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft, is currently offering more than 350 hours per week of interactive television content via the WebTV® Plus Interactive service for its more than 1 million subscribers. And, new announcements at NATPE will more than double the hours of weekly ITV content.

According to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc., interactive television will generate $11 billion in advertising, $7 billion in commerce, and $2 billion in subscription revenues by 2004. Enhanced broadcasts will be available in 24 million homes, and will generate $6.2 billion in advertising revenues and $3.8 billion in commerce in that same time frame. Forrester predicts that early-mover cable and satellite operators will be the primary beneficiaries of this surge in interactive TV activity.

“We are very excited about the opportunities interactive television is offering the television industry today,”
said Russ Krasnoff, executive vice president, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution.
“iTV is clearly being embraced by the creative community, and this first-of-its-kind event really demonstrates the growing commitment to the potential of this emerging medium. Columbia TriStar is very excited about being at the forefront of this explosion.”

Members of the television and interactive communities will participate on the judging panel to decide whose interactive programming idea is the best. The judges include the following people:

  • Mary-Ellis Bunim, co-creator of
    “Real World”
    “Road Rules”

  • Chris deFaria, vice president, Feature Production, Warner Brothers

  • Bill Hamm, senior vice president, Television Series, Granada Television

  • David Jensen, vice president, Enhanced TV/Broadband, Razorfish

  • Kristi Kaylor, president and co-founder, Voxxy Network

  • Keith Kocho, CEO, Extend Media

  • Russ Krasnoff, executive vice president, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution

  • Maxine Lapiduss, executive vice president and co-founder, Voxxy Network (
    “Ellen,” “Roseanne,” “Home Improvement”

  • Mark Lieber, president, TV Programming, Film Roman

  • Paul Mitchell, senior group manager, Microsoft TV, Microsoft

  • Terry Quan, vice president, Business Development, Universal TV and Networks

  • Dave Rudnick, vice president, Content Acquisition, AT & T Broadband & Internet Services

  • Connie Tavel, president and CEO, Tavel Entertainment; executive producer,
    “Judging Amy”

The National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), the alliance of media content professionals, is the world’s largest and most influential nonprofit television programming and software association dedicated to the continued growth and convergence of all content across all media. Each January, NATPE stages the largest and most comprehensive program marketplace, drawing more than 17,000 attendees for four days of focused business interactions.

“We wanted to launch Microsoft’s TV Interactive Pitch during an event where leading industry executives from around the world come seeking the best in television programming,”
Behrens said.
“We choose NATPE 2000 because it attracts the leaders from all aspects of television and provides an excellent forum to help people see the potential for and get excited about interactive television.”

“We are delighted that Microsoft has chosen NATPE to launch its TV Interactive Pitch,”
said Bruce Johansen, president and CEO of NATPE.
“For 37 years, NATPE has been at the center of the groundbreaking events that have shaped the television industry — and for nearly a decade we’ve been at ground zero of the digital convergence. This is a perfect match of Microsoft’s resources and NATPE’s industry expertise. This event is another example of Microsoft’s commitment to helping expand this market by enabling its industry partners to create interactive TV content.”

The Competition

Participants must be registered for NATPE 2000 and have their badge (exhibitor, attendee or day pass) with them. During auditions on Jan. 24, 100 Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch competitors will have 60 seconds to pitch their interactive TV project to a small panel of judges. Thirty qualifiers will be selected and announced the evening of the 24th. A winner will be selected from each of two groups of 15 pitches that follow at the Web Station Theater on the Jan. 25 and 26. This allows for two overall winners for the event. Two runners-up will also be announced on both days and receive honorable mention.

  • The first 100 people in the audition line on Jan. 24 will have 60 seconds to pitch a television project to a panel of screening judges.

  • Those with the 30 most creative pitches will be selected as winners and will go on to the finalist round held on Jan. 25 and 26.

  • The 15 finalists will be contacted on the night of the 24th and instructed to come to the Web Station Theater on the 25th or 26th.

  • On each finals pitch day, participants will be given three minutes, structured as follows, to pitch their idea:

    • Minute 1: Creatively pitch interactive TV project

    • Minute 2: Answer judges’ questions

    • Minute 3: Hear comments and advice from the judges

  • Each judge will use a 100-point scoring system to score each contestant in seven categories. The categories are the use of interactivity, feasibility, style and delivery of the pitch, use of television, high concept, revenue potential and freshness.

  • Two runners-up each day will receive honorable mention, bragging rights and an opportunity to come back to the event development partners and judges for further networking and packaging of their project.

  • A third runner-up may be announced after the event depending on the quality of the written proposals received. The process for submitting written proposals will be available after Jan. 18 with the official rules on the Web at .

The Prizes

Scores will be calculated immediately after each pitch. At the end of each pitch session on Jan. 25 and 26, one winner for each day will be awarded the following:

  • The official Microsoft TV Interactive Pitch award

  • Facilitation by the panel of judges and Microsoft for arranging meetings to explore development opportunities with interactive and/or television companies interested in the ideas of the winner.

The Aftermath

While it is not guaranteed that any project will proceed into prototype, pilot or any future phase of development, Microsoft is interested in working with the TV Interactive Pitch event participants to evaluate their projects as candidates for support outside of the contest process. Microsoft has arranged with a number of its interactive and television partners that the winners should be considered for development deals. Industry partner companies that have already agreed to explore these opportunities include Film Roman, Intellocity, Razorfish and Steeplechase Entertainment. Additional companies are expected to join before the competition.

About Microsoft TV Platform

The Microsoft TV platform is a comprehensive software solution for the television industry that makes television more useful, fun and engaging for consumers and creates significant new economic opportunities for network operators and their suppliers of programming, hardware and software. The client software, Microsoft TV, operates a range of TV-centric appliances, from advanced set-top boxes to integrated televisions. Microsoft TV Server is a suite of software components that offers network operators the tools to provision, manage and operate a large-scale, commercial-grade enhanced TV service. The Microsoft TV platform supports worldwide digital TV broadcast standards, including DVB, ATSC and ARIB. It also supports commonly used Internet standards such as HTML, JavaScript and Dynamic HTML, as well as all interactive content authored according to the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF) standard.

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 WebTV Personal TV service. 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.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software 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.

*Only open to registered attendees of NATPE 2000. Void in Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, Maryland, Vermont and where prohibited by law. Full contest rules are available after Jan. 18, 2000, at .

Microsoft is a registered trademark 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.

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