'Couch Commerce' and Ad-Sponsored Contest Potential Cited

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NEW YORK ( -- Wink Communications' interactive TV services will be incorporated
into digital set-top boxes running the interactive program guide from TV Guide, the two companies announced today.

The alliance between Wink and Gemstar-TV Guide International means Wink services will be available to approximately 6 million digital cable subscribers in the U.S. The deployment, which will begin by the end of the summer, is another sign of the iTV market lurching forward.

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Wink services offer TV viewers nuggets of information about the shows they watch. Of course, there's also the couch commerce factor, along with advertiser-sponsored interactive contests and promotions. Wink's iTV services are already available in 2.5 million households -- 1.5 million of those are subscribers to DirecTV, the leading satellite TV company. The rest are cable TV and WebTV households.

Wink has worked with TV Guide for more than a year on iTV-related programs, including getting the guide installed on the Motorola/General Instrument DCT-2000 set-top digital boxes, said Maggie Wilderotter, Wink's president and CEO.

'Two top killer aps'
"This deal with TV Guide enables us to move more rapidly," she said. "Gemstar is the premier provider of an interactive program guide, and Wink is the No. 1 interactive commerce service. We give our cable operators the two top killer apps for interactive TV in one package. It's very, very powerful."

Last year, Wink signed a similar deal with EchoStar Communications, marketer of the Dish Network satellite TV system. That deal will allow Wink to deploy its iTV services into about 5 million households. Wink has nearly 40 cable system partners.

"For the advertisers, [the deal] gives them more reach into households," Ms. Wilderotter said.

Wink's technology is compatible with digital video recorders such as TiVo, ReplayTV and UltimateTV. Wink's technology overlays existing TV ads. Wink works with advertisers once they've completed their media buys.

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