Showtime Sports Gets Interactive With Mixed Martial Arts On FiOS TV

Showtime Networks and Verizon will debut a high-definition interactive TV application Friday that uses the cable industry's Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format spec to provide voting, polling and fighter profiles in conjunction with mixed martial arts programming.

Showtime is claiming to be the first programmer to launch an HD EBIF application. Verizon has deployed EBIF support nationwide to all of its approximately 2.9 million FiOS TV subscribers on the Motorola-supplied set-top boxes it uses with the service.

Showtime's EBIF app will first launch on FiOS TV with the premium network's Strikeforce Challengers mixed martial arts telecast on Friday, Feb. 26, at 11 p.m. (ET). All FiOS TV customers with an HD set-top box who subscribe to Showtime will have access to the interactive app.

"With the launch of Showtime Sports Interactive, we are excited to be joining Verizon at the forefront, bringing this state-of-the-art feature to Showtime HD," said Robert Hayes, Showtime's senior vice president and general manager of digital media.

Showtime's Sports Interactive app will let subscribers access fighter stats, records, bios and quotes; vote in interactive polls; test their knowledge in a trivia game; and check out a fight calendar.

EBIF, developed and maintained by CableLabs, is a lightweight interactive TV spec designed to work across virtually any digital cable set-top box in use today. Canoe Ventures is expecting to launch its first multi-operator ITV advertising service with EBIF in the second quarter of 2010.