DirecTV Delivers YES Interactive Hits

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DirecTV’s interactive play this summer with Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network’s telecasts of New York Yankees home Major League Baseball games proved to be a major hit with viewers.

More than 42% of New York-area DirecTV subscribers with interactive receivers used one or more features on a weekly basis, rivaling participation numbers for the direct-broadcast satellite leader’s NFL Sunday Ticket National Football League out-of-market package, according to DirecTV executive vice president Eric Shanks.

The two companies will look to take their swings with the interactive service next year, adding several new features, including a Yankees fantasy game, according to YES chief operating officer Ray Hopkins.

The service, which launched in July, offered consumers up-to-the-minute, out-of-town sports scores, league standings and Yankees player statistics as part of YES' live Yankees home game telecasts. In addition, DirecTV customers were able to access a second video feed providing live game coverage from a different vantage point than the primary YES feed.

Among the findings, more than 82% of DirecTV subscribers who used the application used its features more than one time per telecast, with 43% using it six or more times and 25% using it more than 11 times.

Not surprisingly, the out-of-town scoreboard feature -- which prominently showcased scores from Yankees’ divisional rival Boston Red Sox games -- was the most popular feature. DirecTV reported that the feature was accessed by more than 35% of all interactive-enabled viewers.

Hopkins said he has high hopes that YES and DirecTV can improve on participation numbers for next season. He added that the 2007 campaign will offer new features such as a fantasy game in which consumers can pick several Yankees and players from the opposing team. The viewer whose player generates the most points during the game could be eligible for prizes.

Hopkins also said the bonus cam, which was only available for home games, could be added to road contests, as well, next season.

Shanks said DirecTV is in talks with a number of other regional sports networks about adopting its interactive features, but no deals have been struck.

For more on DirecTV’s and YES’ interactive play, please see R. Thomas Umstead’s story on page 10 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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