ACTV Inc. last week secured its second regional sports
network for deployment of its sports interactive service, reaching an agreement with San
Francisco-based Fox Sports Bay Area.
ACTV will have access to Fox Sports Bay Area's sports
programming, including 55 games each from the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's
baseball teams, 30 Golden State Warriors basketball games and 30 San Jose Sharks hockey
games -- as well as the games of University of California and Stanford University sports
teams, said Jeff Krolik, senior vice president and general manager for Fox Sports Bay
Area, which has 2.8 million subscribers.
ACTV expects to launch the Bay Area service in the fourth
quarter of 1998.
ACTV will incorporate the network's programming into its
"individualized" digital programming technology, which allows for some 60
different interactive viewing options during an event. Viewers will be able to access such
features as recaps of a basketball game's most exciting baskets, replays of goals scored
during a hockey game or up-to-the-minute statistics, said Dave Alworth, executive vice
president of entertainment at ACTV.
Fox Sports Bay Area becomes the second regional sports
network to provide its sports programming to ACTV. Fox Sports Southwest signed a deal with
the interactive service earlier this year and is currently testing the format.
The Bay Area service, however, is the first regional
managed by the Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. Sports division to sign ACTV. Unlike Fox,
Rainbow has expressed an interest to be more involved in the development of the service,
including its on-air look and interactive options.
"We expect our agreement with ACTV in the Bay Area
will be the first step in bringing this innovative technology to sports fans in all of the
regions in which we operate," said Daniel Ronayne, vice president of marketing for
Rainbow Sports, in a statement.
Krolik added that ACTV will make the regional sports
network even more attractive in the digital environment. "Once you move past the
movie and expanded basic channels, this is really the promise of digital TV, and what
interactive TV is all about."
With Tele-Communications Inc. dominating the market's
subscribers, Alworth said that it's only a matter of time before the MSO deploys digital
boxes to its subscribers.
Much like its Dallas rollout, ACTV will price the service
at $9.95 per month.
Representatives from TCI could not be reached at press