Relaunched GSN Gets Interactive

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GSN — the former Game Show Network — is introducing five new synched-to-broadcast games on its redesigned Web site as part of the channel’s relaunch, set for today (March 15).

GSN’s version of ITV centers on games PC users can play that are tied to TV programming, as well as stand-alone computer games. The network now counts 84 hours of interactive programming per week and 15 play-along games on the Internet.

The network’s Web site (www.gsn.com) now sports more than 2 million registered users.

The goal has been to add multiplayer games that build community, said GSN senior vice president of interactive and online entertainment John Roberts. Online gamers “are looking for games and interactivity,” he said.

GSN’s World Series of Blackjack debuts March 15, and online players will be able to compete in tournaments of their own, as well as play alongside some of the best blackjack players in the world, Roberts said. There will be blackjack tutorials to help novices learn the ropes.

“It’s a true interactive program,” Roberts said.

Celebrity Mole debuts March 16, and online gamers can earn points for answering trivia and recall questions during the show. The points are used to purchase clues towards the mole’s identity.

March 17 marks the premiere of Fake-A-Date, hosted by Evan Marriott (Joe Millionaire). ITV users see the “thoughts” of each contestant as they try to survive their date.

ITV players also can play an online version of “Have You Ever?”

Team play is emphasized in the March 18 premiere of Kenny vs. Spenny. Online users answer a series of personality questions, and are then assigned to either Team Kenny or Team Spenny.

The two teams compete, via the Internet, by answering trivia and recall questions throughout the show.

Roberts said Kenny and Spenny are best friends in real life that compete in everything.

“It’s a very funny show,” he said.

On March 19, Spy TV premieres. Online gamers can participate by driving their own Spy TV truck along a route, encountering “unexpected disasters.”

ITV viewers gain miles by answering questions and making predictions.

Online gaming is just the beginning of what GSN believes it can offer. Cable operators have dabbled in games, but with Rupert Murdoch — and his history with satellite-delivered games in the U.K. — taking the reins at DirecTV Inc., interest has picked up in recent months. EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network also has picked up the ITV pace.

Murdoch has offered a number of interactive features to British Sky Broadcasting subscribers in the U.K., ranging from parlor games to polling to choices of camera angles for sporting events.

Roberts believes GSN has much to offer cable operators who are looking to compete with gaming applications. Those offerings could range from set-top boxes to narrowband and broadband gaming.

“Cable operators are very excited about the opportunities of ITV, and we are in discussions with many of them,” Roberts said.

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