AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS SEPT. 18, 2001 —
Early results from TV Cabo’s Interactiva service in Portugal and Thomson Multimedia’s TAK service in France indicate that the advanced services enabled by Microsoft®
TV are set to prove a success in Europe with viewers and broadcasters alike. The two services, which are based on the Microsoft TV platform, were launched commercially earlier this year.
TAK, available in France since February 2001 on Thomson television sets, is an interactive service available via an all-in-one integrated television set that eliminates the need for a set-top box. The service requires no other equipment and is simply plugged into the telephone system to achieve a return path for interactivity. Interactive features include enhanced broadcasting, e-mail, Internet access and “walled garden” themed channels. The service is already proving highly successful with subscribers. The average connection time of TAK subscribers to the service is currently 1.5 hours per week, a figure that compares favorably with a French national average of 3 hours and 20 minutes of TV watched per day. More than half of all TAK users connect to the service at least once per week.
Enhanced broadcasts developed with three major French broadcasters, France Television, La Cinquime and Arte, are also proving very popular. For example, game shows such as “Fort Boyard” (on France Television), and viewer participation documentaries such as “C’est vous qui voyez” (on La Cinquime) have already seen a particularly high usage of enhanced broadcasting features with participation ranging from 30 percent to 40 percent. These figures clearly demonstrate that enhanced broadcasts are one of the most popular features with TAK customers. The Microsoft TV Advanced platform allows broadcasters to include these types of enhanced features via HTML, enabling increased viewer loyalty with few added development costs.
Overall, the Internet is the most popular destination for connected TAK subscribers, with more than three-quarters heading onto the World Wide Web; more than half of viewers are also using the service to send and receive e-mail from their television sets.
TAK has found that viewers gravitate toward the walled garden channels over time from the Internet in general, indicating that the convenience of dedicated iTV Internet services is important to consumers and that a clear place exists for dedicated iTV Internet services developed in partnership with well-known content providers. “Le Journal” and “Vie Pratique” have both proved successful on TAK, with both channels being visited by approximately 50 percent of TAK subscribers every week. TAK includes more than 30 walled garden themed channels, all accessible while viewers are watching television. The most popular include interactive news, weather, sports, horoscopes, cinema, classified advertising, music and travel content.
Thomson plans to launch an ADSL-enabled version of TAK in Germany in the first half of 2002.
“TAK is the most advanced interactive service in France, and as such we are breaking new ground here,” said Jacques Thibon, CEO of TAK. “We have been working hard to develop services and features our customers will want, and we are pleased that the first indications show that we are getting this right. We will continue to add new content and services to TAK. The flexibility of the Microsoft TV platform software allows us to do this quickly and easily, with very inexpensive authoring costs.”
Since TV Cabo launched its Interactiva service in Portugal in June, demand for the new service has exceeded expectations. Interactiva is the first cable service of its kind in the world — combining DVR functionality with a broadband interactive TV service. Early results are very positive, with more than half of all TV Cabo Interactiva subscribers using the interactive services each day.
The TV Cabo service now has more than 30 fully interactive channels, and currently there are almost 100 Portuguese interactive content developers enrolled in the Microsoft TV Developer Program creating new and exciting services for Interactiva. Among the various services available are banking with two of Portugal’s biggest banks and shopping with one of the biggest supermarket chains and main distribution supplier lines.
TV Cabo has also designed a powerful “interactive template” that enables broadcasters to quickly and easily give full interactive functionality to any channel, rather than just work on each broadcast independently. Nicknamed the “interactive bar,” the template provides viewers with instant access at any time to content related to the program currently being broadcast.
Jos Graa Bau, CEO of TV Cabo Portugal, described the excitement generated in Portugal since the June 7 launch event. “The reaction to the Interactiva service has been extremely positive. As planned, we will soon be expanding it with new interactive services and including resellers throughout Portugal.”
Mark Le Goy, marketing director for Microsoft TV in Europe, summed up: “The interactive TV market worldwide is still in its very early stages, but the fact that consumers, broadcasters and content developers are getting behind these services to such an extent is very promising for the market as a whole. The best application for interactive TV has yet to emerge, but we’re starting to see some clear front-runners. In particular, Internet-enhanced iTV services are clearly important to European consumers. The Microsoft TV platform enables the most comprehensive set of interactive services; its functionality means giving network operators the most flexible solution to deliver the services their viewers want.”
A subsidiary of Thomson Multimedia and Microsoft Corp., TAK is the developer and operator of an interactive television platform that allows viewers to benefit from many enhanced television functions directly integrated into their television set; interactive programs, online services, Internet access, e-mail and the TV program listings are accessible without subscription through a simple remote control.
By virtue of its open technology based on the Internet standard HTML language, TAK allows TV stations, producers, publishers and announcers to enrich and diversify their products to increase the consumer appeal of television. The services developed are as accessible by today’s television sets as by the DVB digital television sets of tomorrow. TAK services have been available in France since February 2001 on Thomson television sets and will be launched in Germany in the first half of 2002.
More information can be found on the Web at http://www.tak.net/.
About Thomson Multimedia
With sales of 6.7 billion euros ($6.5 billion U.S.) in 1999 and 55,000 employees in more than 30 countries, Thomson Multimedia (Paris Sicovam: 18453) (NYSE “TMS”) provides a wide range of technologies, systems, finished products and services to consumers of and professionals in the entertainment and media industries. To advance and enable the digital media transition, Thomson Multimedia has five principal activities: Displays and Components, Consumer Products, Digital Media Solutions, New Media Services, and Patents and Licensing. The company distributes its products under the popular THOMSON and RCA brand names. More information can be found at http://www.thomson-multimedia.com/.
About TV Cabo
TV Cabo is the leading national cable operator in Portugal, with more than 1 million subscribers and a total of 2.2 million homes. TV Cabo complements its cable coverage with a multichannel digital satellite (DTH) platform.
The company provides a large selection of 44 basic channels to its cable subscribers and over 40 channels to its DTH satellite subscribers. In addition, the company offers several premium channels, which include Telecine (movie channels), Sport TV and two adult entertainment channels.
In November 1999, TV Cabo launched NetCabo, the first broadband Internet access via cable modem in Portugal. This service provides Internet access to high-end customers with speeds up to 640 Kbps — several orders of magnitude faster than conventional access. Currently, NetCabo has more than 40,000 subscribers.
In June 2001, TV Cabo launched its TV Cabo Interactiva service, positioning itself as the first broadband cable operator in the world to deploy an IDTV service using the Microsoft TV Advanced Platform.
TV Cabo is fully owned by PT Multimedia.
About PT Multimedia
PT Multimedia (BVL “PTMN.IN”) is a leading multimedia company in Portugal and one of the leading Internet services companies in Portugal and Brazil. Through its subsidiary TV Cabo, PT Multimedia operates the leading cable and DTH TV services in Portugal. Through its subsidiary PTM.com, PT Multimedia operates the leading ISP and portal ( http://www.sapo.pt/) in Portugal and has acquired an 18 percent stake in the leading ISP and portal in Brazil ( http://www.uol.com.br/). PT Multimedia also owns Lusomundo, one of the largest Portuguese media and entertainment groups, and a minority interest in Paginas Amarelas, Portugal’s leading yellow pages telephone directory business.
Since its inception, PT Multimedia has positioned itself to be the driving force behind media convergence in Portugal and the leading Internet services provider in the Portuguese-speaking world. PT Multimedia has further strengthened the strategic rationale of its Internet project in the Portuguese-speaking world with the exchange of its 100 percent stake in Zip.net SA for a 17.937 percent stake in UOL Inc. SA (SAO “UOL”). UOL is the undisputed ISP and portal market leader in Brazil, with 923,000 paying ISP subscribers representing a 41 percent market share and an 82.3 percent reach as of December 2000.
PT Multimedia, through its subsidiary TV Cabo, has more than a 90 percent market share, with more than 1 million pay-TV subscribers. The company’s ISP has more than 500,000 subscribers, and its Portuguese portal networks had more than 97 million page views and 2.4 million unique users as of March 2001. Through Lusomundo, PT Multimedia holds a broad portfolio of businesses within the media and entertainment industry, including 150 cinema screens across Portugal and Spain, the first and third leading newspapers in Portugal, the most popular radio service as well as a variety of magazine titles and Sony Playstation rights for Portugal.
About the Microsoft TV Platform
The Microsoft TV platform is a standards-based, client and server software family that enables network operators and their partners to deliver the most compelling interactive TV services to consumers. The platform supports a range of TV devices — from current and next-generation set-top boxes and digital video recorders to integrated television sets, entertainment appliances and other computing devices. Through the platform, network operators and hardware providers can team up to offer consumers an unparalleled range of services, from e-mail and Internet on television to interactive programming, electronic program guides and digital video recording.
Microsoft TV also creates significant new economic opportunities for network operators and industry leaders worldwide that have chosen to work with the platform to deliver or supply the services, programming, hardware and software for interactive TV. Microsoft TV supports open standards and is backed by the technical expertise, support and broad third-party developer community for which Microsoft is known. It is an integral part of the Microsoft .NET vision of empowering people through great software — any time, any place and on any device. More information about the Microsoft TV platform can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/tv/.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) 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.
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