Englewood, Colo. -- Liberty Media Group will invest $5
million in ACTV Inc. as part of a deal reached by the two companies, providing a major
financial and promotional boost for the fledgling interactive service.
Liberty will take a 10 percent stake in the company, with
options to invest an additional $5 million, the parties said. The deal will help ACTV to
continue its plan to roll out its interactive digital-cable services to regional-sports
The service -- which allows viewers to choose between as
many as 60 different options while watching a live game -- has already worked with
Liberty's Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports West services to roll out the
technology in Tele-Communications Inc. systems in Dallas and Los Angeles, respectively.
But the use of ACTV may not stop at the
regional-sports-network level: The two companies have formed a joint venture that will
explore other applications of the technology.
Liberty vice president David Jensen said that when TCI
tested ACTV's technology in Ventura County, Calif., the "four-plex"
approach was used with children's shows, news and game shows.
"Clearly, there are other areas of programming that
can be enhanced with the ACTV proprietary technology. We're interested in exploring
all of those," he said, adding, "It's a great business [with] just
Jensen said ACTV also has some potentially important
patents, including ones covering the interface between streaming video on the Internet and
"That work is very creative, and it has a lot of
developmental potential," he said.
David Reese, president of ACTV Entertainment, said the Liberty deal not only provides
financial support for the network, but also lends credibility and clout to the concept.
"This is the best place for ACTV to be right now," Reese said. "Working
together, we will provide cable operators with a valuable service and incremental revenue
source, while offering advertisers one of the most powerful addressable-media vehicles for
an increasingly fragmented environment."
In addition to Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports West,
ACTV has already reached agreements with Fox Sports Bay Area, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain,
Fox Sports Northwest and Sunshine Network to use their live sports programming for its
interactive applications. ACTV's suggested retail price is $9.95 per month.
"The investment allows us to continue our deployment
into other regional networks," said Dave Alworth, executive vice president of ACTV