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CULVER CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE) -- "Wheel Of Fortune" Interactive and "JEOPARDY!" Interactive Invite Millions To "Watch! Play! Win!" With WebTV Plus Beginning Oct. 4; Game
Show Network to Rollout New Interactive Shows by This Winter
Columbia TriStar Television Group (CTTG) and WebTV Networks Inc., will raise the bar on the traditional television viewing experience beginning Oct. 4 with the premiere of "Wheel of Fortune" Interactive and "JEOPARDY! " Interactive.
The new Interactive TV programming will now allow viewers to "solve the puzzle" and correctly question the "answers" while simultaneously watching the shows. As part of Sony Pictures Entertainment's multi-platform strategy, the Interactive TV programming, developed by Los Angeles-based Mixed Signals Technologies (MST), also is slated to rollout on Game Show Network (GSN) this Winter.
The fall debut of the Interactive TV versions of two of the world's most popular game shows will mark a significant milestone in television/Internet convergence and viewer interaction. The first Interactive TV game shows will launch in national syndication five days a week, as well as reach an additional 22 million households through GSN. The viewers will be invited to play along from home, compete with others and win prizes for the first time.
"Game shows are the killer app of interactive television. They are participatory, completely intuitive and provide viewers with instant gratification from their viewing experience," said Andy Kaplan, executive vice president of CTTG.
"With the fall launch, we're raising the bar on delivering the first truly interactive game show experience for viewers, using some of the world's most popular television programming to immediately captivate and engage an audience, " added Kaplan.
Michael Fleming, president of GSN added, "As a leader in interactive entertainment programming, we're intimately familiar with the excitement that interactivity brings to our viewers. The addition of `Wheel of Fortune' Interactive and `JEOPARDY!' Interactive broadens our programming slate, gives our audience even more `play' options, and underscores GSN's position on the cutting edge."
Initially, the first Interactive TV game shows will be available to those subscribing to the Microsoft(R) WebTV Network(TM) Plus Service.
"As a leading provider of enhanced television services, we believe that interactive programming is revolutionizing television as we know it," said Joe Poletto, vice president of WebTV Networks' Network Media Group. "We are pleased to be working with Columbia TriStar on the 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'JEOPARDY!' programs, making interactive options available to our WebTV Plus subscribers and adding a sense of playful competition and community to their living rooms."
"The technology behind this debut is enabling us to deliver the first significant Interactive TV programming that viewers can play along with every night," noted Alex Thompson, president and CEO of MST. "The Interactive TV components are designed to add spontaneity with interactivity that is unique to each show. Interactive TV brings the enduring nature of these timeless programs into a new era of TV broadcasting technology."
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and WebTV plan to support the programming launch with a high-profile marketing campaign also slated to debut this fall and themed around the "Watch! Play! Win!" tagline. Pre-registration for the new versions of "Wheel of Fortune" Interactive and " JEOPARDY!" Interactive will be available to WebTV subscribers from now through the fall program debut. Check www.wheeloffortune.com/itv and www.jeopardy.com/itv for details on how to get into the game.
"`Wheel of Fortune' and `JEOPARDY!' are legendary game show dynasties in their own right with a history for breaking new ground. By bringing this immersive interactive component directly to an audience already actively involved in the game play from their sofas, we are adding an entirely new dimension to these game shows and marking the latest chapter in their history, " said Harry Friedman, executive producer of "Wheel of Fortune" and "JEOPARDY!"
The TV Signal Gets Interactive
The Interactive TV versions of "Wheel of Fortune" and "JEOPARDY! " are produced by Columbia TriStar Interactive, the new media arm of SPE, and MST, the leading developer of Interactive television production tools and services. MST delivers a complete suite of interactive television programming tools and production services, which encode information into either an analog or digital television stream. This break-through programming enables the integration of television and Internet content to create a completely interactive television experience. The result is real-time, interactive game play for television viewers who get to play alongside the real-life game show contestants.
Robert Tercek, senior vice president of Digital Media for CTTG added, " We've long seen the potential of adding a cutting-edge interactive component to our stable of content. This convergence not only has positive implications for the viewer but also extends to advertisers and sponsors, bringing powerful new marketing tools for them to more directly reach their audiences."
"Wheel of Fortune" Interactive and "JEOPARDY!" Interactive are produced to meet specifications set forth by the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF), a cross-industry group formed to specify a single public standard for delivering interactive television experiences to compliant devices including televisions, TV set-top boxes as well as personal computers. These interactive features also will work with any future set-top box or interactive TV application that conforms to this industry standard.
America's Most Popular Game Shows Make History Again
"Wheel of Fortune," America's No. 1 rated syndicated television show, is now seen in more than 200 U.S. markets and 51 international territories. Beginning its 17th season, "Wheel of Fortune" has been renewed to 2005.
Entering its 16th year in syndication, "JEOPARDY!" imparts immeasurable knowledge to captivated audiences around the world. The show is broadcast in 49 foreign countries and through Armed Forces Radio and Television Services. Since its debut, "JEOPARDY!" has been the recipient of 19 prestigious Daytime Emmy Awards and is America's No. 1 rated quiz show. The show has been renewed until 2005.
About Mixed Signals Technologies Inc.
Mixed Signals Technologies Inc. (MST) is the broadcast industry's leading developer of Interactive TV production tools and services. Broadcasters, TV program producers, post production facilities and Interactive content developers worldwide rely on MST's ITV Dataflo system and advanced production services to create, broadcast and support Interactive TV programming. The company also provides a full-line of "broadcast + data" products for cable and satellite service providers, enabling them to deliver new and engaging Interactive services to analog and digital set-top boxes, via analog and digital broadcasting formats. For more information, visit the MST Web site at www.mixedsignals.com
About WebTV Networks
WebTV Networks Inc., a leading provider of enhanced TV services using Internet and digital technologies, operates the Microsoft WebTV Network service and designs WebTV Internet Terminals and Receivers. The WebTV Network service is available in the United States, Canada and Japan and has more than 800,000 subscribers. WebTV Networks, based in Mountain View, Calif., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
About Columbia TriStar Interactive
Columbia TriStar Interactive is a leading producer and distributor of compelling online entertainment experiences based on original content and Sony Pictures Entertainment branded properties. CTI's content is distinguished by its innovative design, message and technology as well as its broad based consumer appeal. Columbia TriStar Interactive is a Sony Pictures Company.
About Game Show Network
Game Show Network, a Sony Pictures Entertainment company, is the only programming service exclusively dedicated to the exciting world of games, game playing and game shows. Each day, Game Show Network offers a wide array of programming including game show features from its diverse library and new interactive game shows where viewers can become contestants in their own homes. Game Show Network can be found on the World Wide Web at www.gameshownetwork.com
About Columbia TriStar Television Group
SPE's television operations have generated 34 programs spanning all formats and dayparts for the current season.
Columbia TriStar Television's network prime time slate includes "Mad About You," "The Nanny," "Party of Five," "Dawson's Creek," "Dilbert," "The King of Queens," "Early Edition," "L.A. Doctors" and "Malcolm & Eddie." The studio also produces the No. 1 and No. 2 syndicated programs, "Wheel of Fortune" and "JEOPARDY!".
SPE's television business is complementing its domestic content creation capabilities with rapid growth in the international marketplace. The company has invested in more than 20 international distribution and co-production ventures in Latin America, Europe, the Far East and Australia. Columbia TriStar International Television currently operates two branded Sony Entertainment Television networks (in India and Latin America) and produces original local programming in seven languages around the globe. SPE is also the managing partner of Telemundo, the Spanish language domestic network.
SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home video acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment products, services and technologies and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.spe.sony.com.
<<Business Wire, 09-02-99, 09:04 Eastern>>
CONTACT: Columbia TriStar Television Group, Culver City | Justin Pierce, 310/202-3787 | [email protected] | or | eLuminate | Liana Miller, 949/595-4320 | [email protected]
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