DIRECTV announced the first of its long-awaited interactive services at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Three new DIRECTV Mix channels are now available, allowing viewers to watch up to six channels on one screen. Customers with compatible receivers can use their remote control to listen to and select any of the channels displayed. Other customers will be able to view the mosaic screens as standard channels.

The News Mix will include CNN, Headline News, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and the Weather Channel, while Sports Mix will offer ESPN, the NFL Network, and the Golf Channel among others. Both services will be hosted by DIRECTV presenters. They will be complemented by Kids Mix, which covers popular children’s networks including the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon.

Launching in February, a new DIRECTV Active channel will offer daily and five day weather forecasts for thousands of locations with regional weather maps, financial market summaries, daily horoscopes, state lottery results, pay per view and broadcast programme recommendations and network promotions, with the ability to tune directly to any of the Mix channels.

DIRECTV has been deploying interactive-capable receivers since April 2004. These set-top boxes will receive a software download that will enable the interactive capabilities.

“We understand the importance of creating features that make DIRECTV’s programming even better and this is just the beginning of what DIRECTV has to offer in the interactive category,” said Eric Shanks, who is responsible for advanced services and content at DIRECTV.

The new interactive channels are in some ways similar to those already available on sister services in the UK and other territories, although initially more modest, relying substantially on the presentation of existing channels, rather than specifically produced interactive streams.

It mirrors the approach adopted by satellite rival Echostar with their Showcase service on the Dish Network, first used for the 2004 Olympics. The availability of the mix mosaic screens as a standard channel is a sensible move, given the challenge ahead in providing a population of receivers capable of taking advantage of interactive services.