Gambling’s Key for ITV


San Francisco— A key barrier preventing U.S. cable operators and satellite providers from making as much money selling ITV services as their counterparts in the United Kingdom could be American laws that bar gambling via TV.

OpenTV Corp. CEO Jim Chiddix told National Show attendees last Saturday (April 2) that News Corp.’s British Sky Broadcasting plc generates an annual $80 per customer in revenue from ITV — 65% of that from gambling.

OpenTV supplies software to BSkyB, which lets customers play poker and casino games.

Even though U.S. cable and satellite-TV operators can’t market similar interactive gambling services, Chiddix said there’s money to be made selling other products.

BSkyB generates about 40% of ITV its revenue from things like interactive shopping, voting and gaming.

Chiddix reviewed the rocky history of interactive advertising service Wink Communications Corp. (now owned by OpenTV), noting he believed that company was ahead of its time.

He also said Wink’s strategy of paying cable operators and programmers to use its service, with the hope that advertisers would pay a premium for enhanced ads, was not effective.

The few cable operators that cut distribution deals with Wink probably did so in order to learn about the technology and later develop it on their own, Chiddix added.