Channel E4 show Banzai is an extreme betting programme where viewers bet on the outcome of surreal and comic scenarios

A show on the channel E4, the new entertainment station from the Channel 4 stable, has introduced a new type of interactive programming.

The show, called Banzai, is billed as an extreme betting programme, where viewers are shown surreal and comic scenarios, and given the chance to bet on the outcome.

The interactive part of the show was developed by NDS Group, with the programme itself being produced by Radar TV for Channel 4. Viewers watching the show on the Sky Digital platform can use their remote controls to predict what will happen in the given scenario, and their scores will be counted and displayed on screen by the set-top box.

"The interactive element to this show is implicit – it's built into the way the show's been designed. The content for the interactive game is sent through the broadcast signal, converted in the set-top box into what you see on screen, and loaded up if the viewer decides to interact," says Richard Cross, vice-president of interactive TV for NDS.

Banzai, the Japanese word for hooray, is presented in the manner of a faux-Japanese game show – hence the riduculous betting opportunities.Interspersed by neon-coloured full screen titles and logos in Japanese characters, with English subtitles, are bizarre scenarios set up for betting.

For example, Pat Sharp, the former Capital Radio DJ, competes against a 'geniune German' to see who can hold their breath under water the longest.

The bet is introduced by a riduculously-mannered Japanese presenter, then title screens flash up instructing the viewers to 'Place your bets now!' Viewers without the interactive platform can place bets among themselves at home, but people with access to the Open platform can interact with the set-top box and keep track of their score.

Other betting opportunities are given by a game of Russian roulette with shaken beer cans, a line-up of women of whom one is really a man, and the cult hero of the show, Mr Shake Hands Man, a fake interviewer who shakes hands with celebrities for as long as he can.

"Initially this game is just for fun and there are no prizes attached, but we're talking with Channel 4 about taking it further," says Cross. There are no immediate plans to take the interactive content onto other digital platforms. "Sky Digital was targeted as the first platform because it has the biggest audience," explains Cross.

NDS has previously done work on the Sky Digital platform for Sky Sports Active and the QVC shopping channel.


Published 8 February, 2001 by NMA Staff

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