BOSTON, MA – February 15, 2000 – New England sports fans will be introduced to the future of sports talk television when FOX Sports Net New England launches its first interactive TV special on March 14. The regional sports leader will televise a special hour-long live “March Madness” special at 8:00 PM, giving viewers across New England the chance to “call in” to the show via Web-cams. The “March Madness” special is expected to be the first in a series of regularly-scheduled interactive Web-cam TV shows to be announced in the coming months on FOX Sports Net in New England.
The network will unveil its interactive TV initiative at its programming launch party tonight, where David Woodman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of FOX Sports Net New England, will be joined by FOX Sports Net personalities and Boston sports stars including Bruins legends Phil Esposito and Cam Neely, former Red Sox utility man Steve Lyons, and Celtics legend Jo Jo White. The event celebrates the wide array of FOX Sports Net programming launched in New England this January and will demonstrate a new interactive program featuring live interaction with sports personalities from an interactive center in the Atlas Bar & Grill, plus a special guest from a remote New England location.
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology and leveraging new opportunities made possible by broadband and high-speed Internet access, FOX Sports Net New England’s new interactive programming combines the live, time-proven concept of TV and radio call-in programs with the face-to-face interactive capability of Web-cams, personal computers, and the Internet. FOX Sports Net New England developed the interactive technology that allows viewers with Web-cams in their homes to “call in” to the show with their image appearing on screen with the show’s hosts and other guests. In addition, FOX Sports Net New England, working with technology leader LiveWavesm , plans to install several interactive centers in sports bars and other locations to give those not yet equipped with broadband or high-speed Internet access and a Web-cam the chance to participate.
“This new technology will serve as the backbone of what will become a truly exciting new element to our program schedule. It is further evidence of our cutting edge creativity and commitment to provide New England sports fans with the highest quality and most innovative sports coverage in the region,” said Woodman. “What makes the debut of this new technology so special, is that it will tap in to New England sports fans’ passion for great basketball.”
The interactive “March Madness” basketball preview, which televises live on March 14th at 8:00 PM, will be hosted by FOX Sports Net New England’s Eric Frede and Boston Celtics General Manager Chris Wallace. The program will examine each of the four NCAA regions, and feature viewer “call ins” via Web-cams discussing their own “Final Four” match-ups and eventual NCAA champion selections. Each viewers’ image will appear, in a picture-in-picture format, on-screen with Frede and Wallace, as they engage each other in discussion. The show will be able to host multiple “callers” on screen, as well as surprise Web-cam guests who will join the show from remote locations. Viewers can also send video e-mails, some of which will be televised during the program.
New England has more than 150,000 broadband customers, most of whom receive their high speed internet access from cable modems. MediaOne, the largest cable operator in New England has been in the forefront deploying broadband technology in the region.
FOX Sports Net, which reaches more than 3.4 million viewers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, is New England’s premier source for sports programming, news and information, featuring live local coverage of the Boston Celtics, New England Revolution and Hockey East. On January 1, 2000 FOX Sports Net launched an all-new lineup of programming in New England, featuring “FOX Sports News Primetime” with Keith Olbermann; college football and basketball from PAC-10 and Big 12; “NFL This Morning“, hosted by Chris Myers, Marv Levy, Jackie Slater, and Chris Spielman on Sundays at 11:00 AM; Hardcore Football; the MLB “Baseball Thursday” Game of the Week; boxing on Sunday Night Fights; exclusive FOX Sports Net presentations, including the John Wooden Awards, and FOX Sports Net originals.
FOX Sports Net is a service of National Sports Partners, a 50/50 joint venture between Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., and the FOX Entertainment Group. Equally owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. and FOX Entertainment Group, FOX Sports Net now reaches more than 68 million homes nationwide.
Rainbow Sports, a division of Cablevision’s Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., has dedicated itself to “Home Team” fans for more than 20 years. Rainbow Sports incorporates all of Rainbow Media’s sports assets, including its 50 percent ownership of FOX Sports Net and FOX Sports National Advertising, majority ownership of the Madison Square Garden Properties, and the ownership and management of FOX Sports Net regional networks in six of the nation’s largest markets — Chicago, Florida, New England, New York, Ohio and San Francisco. MediaOne has a 50 percent interest in FOX Sports Net New England.
Headquartered in Newport, RI, LiveWavesm the leading provider of live,interactive audio/video feeds for television and Internet audiences. Through its Outertainmentsm network of highly immersive, themed cameralocations, or “channels,” LiveWave delivers a diverse selection of unedited action-driven live content.
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