Viewers of the NHL Stanley Cup Final ice hockey on NBC Sports are able to interact through a web site during the broadcast coverage. For some this is a valid form of interaction while others may question whether it counts as interactive television.
Viewers can interact in real-time by choosing their favourite teams and predicting the outcome of events within the game. They can also participate in polls, trivia quizzes and chat with other fans, with a chance to win tickets to games next year.
“NBC Sports and NBCSports.com are committed to using interactivity to entertain and engage our audience across multiple platforms,” said Perkins Miller, responsible for Digital Media at NBC Sports and Olympics. “NBCSports.com Screen Shot is an exciting example of how we can enhance the TV experience, allowing hockey fans to watch the Stanley Cup on television while simultaneously playing along online.”
“Sports fans no longer want to passively watch the game,” said Michael Adams, vice president of system architecture at Tandberg Television which developed the Flash application. “Today’s sports enthusiast wants to be part of the action. The two-screen application developed for NBCSports.com demonstrates Tandberg Television’s commitment to providing innovative interactive technologies, to personalize the television experience.”
Faced with the difficulties of deploying true interactive television applications through set-top boxes on satellite and cable, American television networks have offered so-called ‘two-screen’ applications to encourage viewers to participate online through their personal computers.
Writing on the Multichannel News web site, Steve Donohue observed: “Two-screen interactive TV was cool 10 years ago. The fact that NBC hasn’t found a way to offer interactive TV through a single screen in 2007 — allowing digital cable or satellite subscribers to interact with the game on TV with their remote controls — shows ITV still has a long way to go.”
For those that have been aiming to achieve integrated interactivity, a playalong web site might seem like a soft option. Alternatively it may be a pragmatic recognition that a laptop may offer a more convenient platform for interaction than a set-top box and a remote control.