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RealTime IT News

From Couch Potatoes to Armchair Quarterbacks

FoxSports.com, using technology from Motorola and Proteus, Inc., plans to expand its interactive reach to football fans watching Sunday's conference championship games and the Feb 3 Super Bowl by giving viewers the ability to register their opinions and game play predictions through Internet-ready wireless devices.

Fox has been running its Virtual Coach feature, which allows viewers to vote on action from the game (pass or throw on next play?), controversial moments in the game (was that an incomplete pass or a fumble?) or to make other predictions (who's going to the Super Bowl?), from its Web site throughout the season. Now, fans will be able to vote without leaving the couch or the bar stool with just a few clicks on the keypad of any Web-enabled wireless device.

"Wireless technology will make our virtual polls on sporting events even more popular by making it more convenient to participate," said Ross Levinsohn, senior vice president and general manager of FoxSports.com. "We believe Fox Sports offers its viewers different ways to enjoy our broadcasts, and this application will allow them to take the excitement of the Virtual Coach online experience to another level."

Further enhancing the experience, those who use their Internet-ready wireless devices during timeouts will also be able to play exclusive football-themed episodes of two popular trivia game shows: SMUSH and You Don't Know Jack. Hungry fans can also check out Dominos menu items and specials and then order their favorite pizza via Motorola's mobile shopping technology for web-enabled devices.

"The visibility of professional football's championship game will surely advance the usage of wireless devices in conjunction with TV broadcasts. By adding a wireless Internet element we will greatly increase the accessibility of the application to the viewing audience," said Patrick McQuown, president of Proteus, the Washington, D.C.-based Web design firm that developed the wireless polling technology for Motorola .

Fox debuted its virtual polling feature during the 2001 Major League Baseball World Series, with questions like, "Are the Yankees done in the Series?" and "Who has the edge going into Game 7: the Yankees or D-Backs?" Over 100,000 viewers participated in the online polls. Fox anticipates that virtual polling will offer significant growth opportunity for the entire industry.

According to Fox, teaming the polling with wireless technology brings a new dimension to the television-viewing experience, expands the audience, and creates the possibility of new revenue for advertisers.

"Football fans have become more familiar with Motorola by seeing our logo on the wireless headsets used by head coaches," said Tim Krauskopf, vice president of product management for Motorola's Internet Software and Content Group. "Now, our wireless solutions will increase fans' enjoyment by letting them become even more involved in the game."

The Schaumberg, Ill.-based Motorola sees wireless sports polling as an opportunity to bridge television content with wireless technology. Company officials cite the wireless Virtual Coach application as an example of ways that Motorola leverages distinct media channels such as the television, the Internet, and the mobile Web to create "infotainment" solutions that increase user fun.