Universal Adds PPV Ordering to Web

Universal Studios Pay-Per-View will add a number of interactive elements to its Web site to support several November pay-per-view releases.

The site (

) is also the first-ever advance online ordering service from a major studio, allowing consumers to request Universal pay-per-view films up to 30 days in advance, said Universal Television & Network Groups U.S. senior vice president of worldwide pay-per-view and video-on-demand Holly Leff-Pressman.

The enhancements, grouped under the title "Universal's Great Movie Game Challenge," include online games tied to four November movie releases, including
The Skulls
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

Pitch Black
, said Leff-Pressman. The games, developed by Universal Studios Online, will be accessible to visitors to the U.S. PPV Web site through Feb. 28.

Users earn points while playing the games. At the end of the contest, the 100 players who earn the most points (combined total of highest score for each game) will win prizes. The top 10 winners will win original costumes from
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

Universal will offer winners more than $20,000 in movie merchandise.

"These enhancements create an inviting interactive environment for consumers to sample our pay-per-view films," Leff-Pressman said. "The upgraded online ordering process will enable consumers to make viewing plans well in advance, and the interactive games add to the total movie experience."

In the "U-571 Submarine Escape," players maneuver a captured submarine through an underwater canyon. Depth charges are dropped from an enemy ship and if the submarine dives too low, it will implode. Players must save the crew, capture the secret code and save the world.

In "Skulls Snake Tower," players must capture the mascot of a rival secret society on an Ivy League college campus. To ensure a spot in The Skulls, participants must scale a tower and capture a snake.

In "Pitch Black Night Run", the player is the last member of a spaceship crew left alive. After a long struggle, the player can see the craft, but in order to get back he must defend himself from various enemies-with only a flashlight.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.