DirecTV Gives The Wink To Interactivity

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NEW YORK -After more than two years in development, Wink Communications and partners Thomson Consumer Electronics and DirecTV announced the launch of their new satellite-delivered interactive TV services.

DirecTV announced at a recent joint press conference here that it started regionalized downloads of Wink middleware applications that will empower more than 1 million new RCA DirecTV IRDs in the market to receive new interactive broadcasts.

Although Wink features have been offered on a number of advanced analog cable systems and off-air on NBC broadcasts, the DirecTV application-called "DirecTV Interactive powered by Wink"-will be one of the first all-digital implementations of the system.

Viewers will be able to engage in two-way communication with DirecTV and programmers for a variety of functions, including:

  • Television-based purchasing of products and services in a process called T-commerce." Barnes & Noble.com will be among the first Wink partners to offer T-commerce service on the DirecTV platform.
  • Enhanced data services using onscreen data overlays to view supplemental information on a TV program being viewed on the same screen. CBS, Fox, NBC and a number of other cable networks, including CNBC, CNN, E!, ESPN, TBS, TNT, TWC and USA have offered enhanced data services.
  • New dedicated interactive information and news channels from leading content providers.

The first three providers announced are ESPN, NBC and The Weather Channel. Each will provide a full-screen interactive channel that viewers can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for up-to-the-minute information and entertainment. The Weather Channel, for example, will help DirecTV subscribers access up-to-the-minute localized weather forecasts for their region of the country.

RCA originally announced marketing plans for Wink-capable DirecTV IRDs two years ago and has sold more than 1 million such units into the market. All current-generation DirecTV IRDs are Wink-enabled, with the exception of special units such as the RCA DTC-100 HDTV decoder and the UltimateTV DirecTV personal video recorder.

RCA's Wink-capable models include the DS4440RE, DS4280RE, DS4240RE and DS4120RE systems, as well as models DRD480RE, DRD440RE and DRD420RE.

Additionally, Hughes Network Systems has announced plans to deliver Wink-capable IRDs later in the year.

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