About 700,000 to 800,000 Time Warner Cable digital-cable subscribers in seven markets will be able to track medal counts, as well as access extensive TV listings, athlete biographies and other information through their remote controls when the Winter Olympics begin this Friday from Torino, Italy.
The trove of constantly updated information will be delivered through an interactive service created by NBC, Time Warner and software supplier Biap Systems Inc.
The Olympics service can be used by subscribers of Time Warner Cable systems in San Antonio, El Paso, Waco, Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas; Columbia, S.C.; and Green Bay, Wis. Biap software is already installed in digital set-top boxes in those seven markets.
“We’re leveraging what’s in place,” said Joan Gilman, vice president of interactive television and advanced advertising for the MSO.
NBC, Time Warner and Biap started talking after Thanksgiving about developing software for the interactive Olympics application, she said. Boxes with the Biap software can retrieve news and information from Biap servers in the headends of those seven systems.
For the Olympics, Biap created a software agent that uses the public Internet to ping a central NBC server in New York. It downloads up-to-the minute medal count information and TV listings to the local Biap servers in the seven Time Warner systems.
To drive usage, Gilman said, Time Warner and NBC will promote the applications in those seven markets. Viewer response could dictate whether NBC and the MSO expand interactivity for the 2008 Summer Games.
“It’s an important first step,” Gilman said.