Having produced some of the first interactive programming for
Eurosport's coverage of the 1994 World Cup, I've been waiting to reach
the promised land of compelling interactive sports coverage for longer
than I care to remember.
Sky Sports Active? Doesn't do it for me. The first time I tuned in, for
a Leeds game against Liverpool in 1999, I found it totally intrusive on
my already rabid relationship with Andy Gray and his Super Slowmo
So it was with some scepticism that I approached the launch of Sky Play
for another major Leeds game, this time last Sunday's battle with
Sky Play enables the viewer to make predictions before and during the
game to accumulate points, with the top scorer receiving a cash
After giving the rules the once over ten minutes before the game, I made
my predictions for the match. First scorer, time of first goal, first
player to be booked. As a spread-betting loser, it's easy to see where
this type of predictive gaming will lead. It won't be long before we're
playing for money.
The beauty of Sky Play is that during the game it allows the viewer to
make on-the-spot predictions on events such as the outcome of a
I found myself with the remote control constantly in my hand, making
sure that I didn't miss any opportunity to increase my points tally.
That naff phrase "sticky content" sums up this digital nirvana of
broadcast-quality TV with the index finger-twitching interactivity of
the games console.
Crucially, the interface is simple and the application functions
The service complements the broadcast coverage, it's easy to use and
doesn't get in the way of the on-screen action.
There are still improvements to be made - I'd like more feedback on the
predictions and, because of technology limitations, it's not possible to
leave the channel during the broadcast.
At about £1.50 a time, the service is not cheap but sponsors will
be attracted to Sky Play so this charge may come down. The real earner
for Sky will come by licensing the technology for use with terrestrial
brands such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, The Weakest Link and
coverage of the major sporting events, and sharing in telephony revenue
as Channel 4 did with Big Brother.
Editorially driven content is always a must for truly compelling
interactivity and Sky Play does deliver a great proposition.
Unfortunately, my total of 4,650 points wasn't enough to get me a spot
on the leaderboard. I was sick as a parrot.
Channel: Sky Sports Extra
Frequency: During games shown on Sky Sports Extra
Time: 21 October, 3pm
Number of users: Not being released for first programme
Advertisers include: Ford (Super Sunday sponsor), Carling, NatWest,
Standard Life, Royal Mail