GIG Seeks Dominance in European Interactive TV Betting Market

13 November 2001

Global Interactive Gaming (GIG), one of Europe's biggest content providers for the Interactive TV industry, inked another partner this week in hopes of broadening its consumer base in Europe.

Freedomland Internet Television, Europe's largest open access Internet TV platform, and GIG are teaming up to bring GIG's betting platform to Freedomland users.

For GIG the deal is significant, marking the first partner the company has outside of the United Kingdom. GIG is hoping that the cross-European reach that comes with Freedomland will give it a head start on becoming the leading betting platform with Interactive TV.

For Freedomland, the GIG betting service will join other entertainment-based platforms available to its users. In June Freedomland partnered with award-winning interactive murder mystery adventure The Cypher, which was created by B.E. Studios.

Freedomland launched in the United Kingdom in spring 2001 to provide subscribers with full Internet access and a host of exclusive and proprietary content via the TV set. At £9.99 per month plus local call costs, users get a set-top box, infra-red keyboard and access to the Freedomland service with its wide range of entertainment. Their service is available throughout most of Europe.

GIG is a subsidiary of Germany's Kirch group, which is partially owned by Australian media giant Rupert Murdoch, and is laying the groundwork for becoming the betting platform of choice for Interactive TV. Using patent-protected software, it runs alongside live sport broadcasts, offering continually updated, computer-generated odds on every twist and turn of an event. Kirch owns the broadcasting rights for such major sporting events as Wimbledon, soccer's World Cup and Formula One racing.

GIG is able to provide proposition bets on key moments of a live sporting events as they unfold. Everything from the result of a crucial penalty in football to the result of a match point in a tennis tournament can be wagered on as they happen by using the GIG system.

GIG's service will be launched to users of Freedomland's set-top box early in 2002, joining existing content from partners including the BBC, and WHSmith, who have already signed up with Freedomland.

Executives with both firms said the deal is a perfect fit for each in growing their Interactive TV businesses.

Simon Mellinger, General Manager of Freedomland, said his company had been looking for a way to merge its Interactive TV system with sports gambling.

"Gaming is one of the pioneering applications on Internet and interactive TV platforms, and GIG offered Freedomland a great opportunity to be at the forefront of this explosion," he said. "It is a product that underlines the convergence between television and the Internet, enhancing and enriching the viewer experience and thus precisely mirroring the Freedomland philosophy."

Cees Zwaard, CEO of Global Interactive Gaming, said the low £9.99 a month fee for Freedomland subscribers will create a large potential player base to market its services to.

"Freedomland provides the U.K.'s lowest entry cost for open Internet TV access," he said. "I am highly optimistic that our revolutionary service will soon be available to a much wider audience."