With virtual net, GSN isn’t only game in town

Network, Two Way TV hope to launch channel by year's end

To extend its brand and tap into a growing audience of viewers who play games via their TV sets, the Game Show Network plans to create a second version of the cabler together with interactive TV technology developer Two Way TV.

Unlike interactive editions of “Greed,” “Whammy” “Russian Roulette” and “Friend or Foe” — which GSN is readying to roll out enabling cable subs to play directly along with on-air contestants using high-end set-top boxes — new channel will have simpler fare, in which games appear as animated text, often without sound, and viewers will only be competing against themselves, making selections via remote control.

Goal is to launch the new GSN-branded channel by the end of the year with four games, made up of classic and original programming based around games that air on the cabler, as well as other titles developed by Two Way TV.

“If what you want to do is just watch, it’s OK,” John Roberts, GSN’s senior veep of interactive and online entertainment, told Daily Variety. “If you want to get more involved, you can. By creating a virtual channel, it allows people to play along. If you want to sit back, you can turn on the regular channel.”

Seeking younger aud

New channel is being viewed as a way to not only extend GSN’s brand but attract a younger and more tech-savvy audience to GSN’s other programming.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but it is expected that GNS will plaster the new channel with advertising.

Pact calls for the channel to be integrated into interactive TV technology developed by companies such as Wink Communications, OpenTV, Liberate Technologies, Microsoft TV and Sony, among others, whose software can be found running inside cable set-top boxes.

“This will allow GSN to present our most forward-looking cable and satellite distribution partners with exciting and unique content,” Roberts said. “This is a very natural partnership. We have the brand. They have the capabilities.”

GSN and Two Way TV are talking to cable operators, with plans for launching the new channel in the third quarter, at the earliest.

“The games will become as sophisticated as the network operator allows,” said Robert Regan, prexy and chief operating officer of Two Way TV.

Los Angeles-based Two Way TV, formerly known as TWIN Entertainment, recently announced merger plans with London-based Interactive Network to create interactive TV applications that enable multiple players to play along with live TV or other programming.

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