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Liberate scores deal with ESPN

The sports network has chosen Liberate Technologies to provide technology for its first foray into interactive television.

Walt Disney's ESPN sports network said Tuesday that it has chosen Liberate Technologies to provide technology for its first foray into interactive television.

The deal stems from ESPN's announcement in May that it would offer an interactive service to subscribers of Insight Communications, a cable company that serves communities in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. ESPN also has a deal with cable company Cablevision Systems' digital cable service.

Liberate will power a number of interactive perks on ESPN. Initiatives will include creating a video-on-demand service called "ESPN Today Plus VOD," which will let viewers order programs at will. The partnership will also produce a real-time statistics feature that viewers can use during games, as well as an around-the-clock feature for news and scores.

The companies did not say when they plan to release the service to ESPN viewers, nor did they disclose financial terms of the deal.

The agreement is another example of how TV networks and technology companies are teaming up to provide interactive programming to households. Both industries have publicly embraced the growing demand for the digital delivery of content into the living room but have often been at odds on larger issues such as digital content rights.

Furthermore, efforts by technology giants AOL Time Warner and Microsoft have not proved that couch potatoes want to point and click. AOL's interactive TV service, AOLTV, and Microsoft's UltimateTV were both unveiled with great fanfare, but neither service has picked up momentum among consumers.