February 19, 2007
Showtime Interactive 2.0 Adding DVR Features, More Access to Ancillary Content

Friday, Showtime announced their own foray into interactive television with a new feature for Dish Network homes that will be called Interactive 2.0. The service, which will work with the regular Showtime channel for Dish subscribers, will allow these users to watch ancillary content through their remote control. Most helpful may be a feature that allows viewers to see Showtime programming for the next month and to select programs for recording weeks ahead of time.

The service also includes the ability to select angles when watching boxing matches, more developed details about actors, behind-the-scenes footage, trivia, and other features for fans.

According to the press release, the service will also be available in a limited capacity to non-Showtime subscribers and stretches across all 10 Showtime channels.

The service will include dedicated sections for popular shows such as Dexter, Weeds, and The L Word.

This is a more advanced release of the ITV application Showtime has been using since 2003.

Todd Spangler with Multichannel News writes, "The application, developed using OpenTV's ITV platform, was a complete rewrite of the mostly text-based version 1.0, first deployed in 2003, Showtime vice president of interactive television David Preisman said. Showtime Interactive 2.0, he added, looks more like a DVD menu with promotional video clips running in the main window on the screen."

The interactive service certainly sounds like it adds some significant features, particularly the chance to choose programs to record via DVR weeks in advance, and it may help to drive viewer interest in the 10 Showtime channels to have such control over choosing from the Showtime schedule so far in advance.

I'm sure that there are still more versions to come, but 2.0 adds a significant new layer of interactivity for Showtime viewers on Dish.

Last month, I wrote about Showtime's announcement of a broadband gaming service as well, writing, "The market should be able to hold multiple providers for broadband gaming options, so it will be interesting to see if Showtime is correct in thinking that its extant relationships will make distributing a product like this easy to pull off."

And Showtime has made the news several times with its efforts at cross-platform distribution, such as here, here, and here.

I've written about significant new moves across CBS in general to expand ancillary content, such as the formation of CBS Mobile this past week.