RealTime IT News

An e-Dream of a Deal for TV Sports Fans

In an deal that should bring a smile to the faces of sports fans who just can't get enough, satellite TV provider DIRECTV Inc. and Quokka Sports Inc. are teaming up to deliver new interactive sports programming to users of DIRECTV's advanced set-top box.

DIRECTV, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corp., claims 8.7 million customers. Quokka is a provider of "immersive"digital sports programming and is currently teamed with NBC to produce NBCOlympics.com.

Financial arrangements were not disclosed. However, DIRECTV also made an unspecified equity investment in Quokka Sports, along with other financial and strategic investors.

On Monday Quokka had said it raised $76 million through a private placement of debt in an offering led by General Electric Co.'s GE Capital, and expects the money to carry it through to profitability in the second quarter of 2002.

Quokka stock was up about 5 percent in mid-morning trading, at $5.75. Both investments are apparently sorely needed; a BusinessWeek report earlier this week indicated that Quokka had less than three months of cash at current burn rates.

Under the alliance, the companies said they will "develop and market enhanced broadcast products for digital sports entertainment and provide compelling new interactive experiences for sports enthusiasts."

"DIRECTV plans to be a leader in the rollout of new interactive television services, and with Quokka we are in the unique position to once again change the way Americans watch television," said Steve Cox, executive vice president of DIRECTV Global Digital Media. "As with prior evolutions in television, sports content can be the catalyst."

"...we look forward to expanding our multi-platform real-time publishing technology to deliver a new sports entertainment experience to millions of interactive TV users," said Alvaro Saralegui, Quokka Sports' chief operating officer.

"We have found that sports enthusiasts want more than a traditional broadcast of sports. They want to interact with the content and drill down into their personal area of interest," said Michael Gough, Quokka Sports' chief creative officer.

"We have been frustrated with the speed of the Web and we look forward to using all of the digital assets at our disposal including video, audio, and data such as event results and timing, and athletes' biometrics to name a few."

Quokka leverages digital technology to offer rich, immersive presentations that include live event coverage, analysis, news and information, audio and text dispatches from athletes, games, community forums and premium shopping.

DIRECTV offers access to more than 225 channels of programming and provides access to over 4,000 professional and collegiate games a year. The earnings of its parent company, Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors Corporation, are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to the General Motors Class H common stock