ACTV Inc. took a major step toward making its enhanced-TV
service available to cable subscribers by porting its programming to Scientific-Atlanta
Inc.'s Explorer 2000 advanced-digital set-top.
ACTV becomes the latest in a growing list of
enhanced/interactive-TV services available on the Explorer platform. After more than 10
years in business, the company has finally established a firm foothold in the competitive
"To create a subscription service, you have to have
the technology in the set-top box," said Michael Shronstrom, director of research for
Denver-based investment-banking firm Neidiger/Tucker/Bruner Inc.
ACTV previously forged a relationship with General
Instrument Corp., making its programming available on that vendor's DCT-1000 digital
"For our company," said David Alworth, executive
vice president of ACTV, "it's important that our programming be able to be
received on all platforms."
The announcement comes as ACTV prepares to launch its
service in Tele-Communications Inc.'s Dallas service area this year, in conjunction
with Fox Sports Southwest.
ACTV's service -- which, according to Alworth, will be
priced at $9.95 per month -- will be an enhanced rebroadcast of Fox Sports events. It will
give viewers options such as "Star Cam," which focuses on a featured player;
instant-replay capabilities; statistical summaries; and pertinent stories and interviews.
The service has been in a "friendly" technical
deployment in Dallas since early last year, Alworth said, adding that ACTV has a
seven-year agreement with Fox Sports to rebroadcast the network's programming.
ACTV hopes to expand its programming into other areas
outside of sports, including national pay-per-view programs, although Alworth declined to
discuss specifics, other than describing them as "marquee events."
Last year, Liberty Media Group purchased a 10 percent stake
in ACTV, opening the door for other applications of ACTV's technology.
"What subscribers care about is content," said
Bob Van Orden, vice president of product marketing, digital-subscriber networks for S-A,
adding that ACTV is "yet another service that can be hosted on the Explorer 2000
Integrating ACTV into the Explorer 2000 involved creating a
simple, driver-level software component to the platform, Van Orden added.