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Sky Interactive is to create a new interactive television portal that will enable website operators to reach a potential audience of around 20 million users through the television set. The portal will launch later this year with the aim of attracting a diverse range of web content providers including established e-business operators, not-for-profit organisations and even individuals.

The new initiative complements the focused entertainment, gaming and communications services available on the existing Sky Active portal by creating an inexpensive TV distribution channel for a wider range of web content. With the launch of the new portal, Sky aims to broaden the range of services available on its platform and to stimulate further innovation in the interactive TV arena.

The development of the new portal reflects the growing trend for website owners to deliver content to multiple devices and for consumers to access electronic services on a variety of different platforms. With around 10 million viewers accessing Sky’s existing interactive services each month, Sky believes that the new portal will represent a significant new opportunity for website owners interested in service delivery to non-PC devices.

Available without subscription to all digital satellite viewers in the UK and Ireland, the easy-to-use portal will provide access to a range of internet services that have been adapted specially for television. Services will be accessed using conventional URLs or via the the portal’s listings pages and online search engine.

In addition, personalisation features will enable viewers to save their favourite links and access a history of services visited previously. Each person in a household will be able to create an individual profile where he or she can enter personal information to facilitate online transactions, using features such as auto-complete and auto-logon.

For website operators, the new portal will make it easier than ever before to launch an interactive TV service.

Registration, testing and validation services will be available online at Skyinteractive.com and website operators will be able to adapt their services using the WTVML technology that was developed by Sky and subsequently made
available as a public standard.

There will be no up-front charge to register and launch a site to the new portal and website operators will be able to choose from a range of optional marketing features to promote their content to Sky viewers. These will include the ability to register a ‘shortcode’, called a SkyKey, that will allow viewers to jump directly to their site from the portal’s home page.

Ian Valentine, Technical Alliances Director at Sky Interactive, said: “Sky’s investment has created a network of millions of devices that are capable of accessing internet-based services. With around 10 million viewers using our interactive services each month, the new portal’s simple commercial model will create a new audience for website owners and a valuable new channel for e-business. We want to work with the web community to bring the depth and diversity of the internet to interactive television.”

Published on: 12:00AM on 16th June 2005