Liberate, ESPN Team on Interactivity


Liberate Technologies Inc. and ESPN have teamed up to bring interactivity to the cable sports outlet's game plan.

The joint project will add enhanced ESPN programming to Liberate's TV Platform Compact software, which runs on basic digital boxes, including the widely deployed Motorola Inc. DCT-2000. Liberate has been involved in several interactive TV trials; Insight Communications Co. is deploying the technology.

The first crop of ESPN interactive additions will include ESPN Today Plus Video On Demand, a virtual channel that will allow sports mavens to watch ESPN's game telecasts alongside added links to commerce and advertising options. It will be integrated with the Liberate VOD Hub software to allow viewers to order short-form and long-form VOD content and tailor the selections for viewing.

Also on the preliminary list is synchronous programming, a software addition that will allow viewers to obtain on-screen statistics during games they are watching. ESPN Extra, a round-the-clock interactive sports information update, will also be provided.

"Compelling interactive television content is another significant way that ESPN creates value for its affiliates," said ESPN executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Sean Bratches. "ESPN Today stands to act as a powerful digital-acquisition and retention tool for MSOs."