CBS links up to interactive TV

Eye logs on to iTV deal

CBS is betting that the booming online advertising market means the time is ripe again for interactive TV.

Eye net has signed a two-year deal with iTV production company Goldpocket Interactive to make interactive components for a number of different shows, starting with the newest incarnation of “Survivor.”

Though there have been a few one-off attempts, iTV has been largely dormant in the past few years at the broadcast nets since the market collapsed with the rest of the dot-com bust.

In 2000, CBS signed a deal with Microsoft where it worked for more than a year to develop iTV programs for the tech giant’s failed WebTV offering.

“This is our opportunity to get back into the game,” said CBS senior veep of strategic planning and interactive ventures David Katz. “We believe the ad dollars are out there to support these kinds of initiatives.”

If the iTV productions prove popular, CBS stands to profit from the advertising it can sell surrounding them.

Agreement calls for Goldpocket to produce interactive components for a broad range of CBS shows, including drama, comedy, sports and other programming. No specific programs beyond “Survivor” have been chosen.

Eye net is planning to focus primarily on two-screen iTV, where users can interact with a show on a PC while it’s airing. That’s what Goldpocket is currently doing for “Survivor: Palau.” Viewers can receive additional information and interactive opportunities at CBS.com, which is synched to the broadcast.

But Goldpocket will also experiment with onscreen iTV, which about 15 million viewers are able to access through advanced cable or satellite set-top boxes.

Deal doesn’t call for work with mobile phones, which have proven to be the most popular outlet for TV interaction recently following the example of voting on “American Idol.”

Net hopes to accelerate its iTV offerings with the launch of its 2005 schedule and continue its work with Goldpocket through the 2006 season.

This is the first comprehensive broadcast net deal for Goldpocket, one of the few surviving iTV companies. It currently works primarily with cable nets like GSN.

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