DirecTV to Provide Interactive TV Coverage of This Week's British Open Golf Championship

--Announces Plans to Stream Live NFL Games on iPhone, iPod touch

US satellite-TV provider, DirecTV, plans to offer interactive TV coverage of the British Open golf championship's first two rounds this Thursday and Friday (July 16th and 17th). The company intends to offer interactive TV coverage of all the four "major" golf championships this year--the others being the US Open, the Masters and the PGA Championship.

DirecTV's interactive TV coverage of the British Open, which the company is branding as "The British Open Experience" and providing at no extra charge, sees it offering viewers a four-screen HD Mix channel, as well as various informational services accessed through the red button. The Mix channel will offer: 1) TNT's main network feed of the British Open; 2) a "Featured Holes" channel that will be devoted exclusively to what DirecTV says are the Turnberry golf course's three "most historic and renowned holes"--9, 10, and 11; 3) an "18th Hole" channel, featuring the Turnberry course's 18th hole, which DirecTV says has been lengthened by 29 yards, with a third bunker added at driving distance, along with two bunkers protecting the approach; and 4) a "Highlights Channel," which will offer updated highlights throughout the day, as well as interviews with the tournament's top golfers as they start or finish their rounds. According to the company, each of the HD Mix Channel's three extra channels is offered in both standard- and high-definition, is fully produced with its own production crew and announcers, and will be presented without commercial interruption. While the Mix channel will be available to all DirecTV subscribers, subscribers with interactive TV-enabled receivers will be able to use their remotes to highlight any of the component channels in order to listen to its audio, or select it to watch it in full-screen mode.

Interactive TV-enabled viewers who press the red button, meanwhile, will be able to access information on the championship's top five leaders; view a more elaborate leaderboard that will allow them to select any listed golfer in order to access his hole-by-hole stats; participate in a five-question daily trivia contest on the history of the British Open; and access a "Tune To" menu that will allow them to tune directly to the Mix Channel (701) or any of its four constituent channels (702-705). "With the addition of The Open Championship to our interactive service line-up, DirecTV will have complete coverage of all eight golf and tennis championships, a level of sports programming unmatched in the pay-TV industry," Eric Shanks, DirecTV's EVP of entertainment, said in a prepared statement. "Our expanded, multiple-channel coverage of the tournament is the best way to experience the scenic beauty and treacherous cliff-top holes of the course and get a true sense of appreciation for the challenge golfers are facing."

In other DirecTV news: The company has announced plans to offer live NFL games on the Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices to customers who subscribe to its NFL Sunday Ticket package with the SuperFan upgrade (the combined cost of which is $380 per season). The service, which DirecTV says will require a 3G or strong WiFi connection, is slated to launch September 13th and will require customers to install software that will be available in the Apple App Store.

North America