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AOLTV using "Blow" to spur impulse buying

AOL Time Warner on Friday is set to introduce a way for interactive-TV viewers to buy tickets for the upcoming film "Blow," starring Johnny Depp.

In another example of the cross-promotional opportunities within AOL Time Warner, the company on Friday will introduce a way for interactive-TV viewers to buy tickets for the upcoming movie "Blow," starring Johnny Depp.

Several pieces within AOL Time Warner will be involved in creating this promotion: the America Online division's AOLTV and Moviefone divisions, as well as the New Line Cinema studio, which is releasing the film. These divisions are teaming with interactive-TV application developer Standard Alliance to merge commerce, Internet and TV broadcasting into one offering.

"This is one of the first convergent initiatives to be deployed" from the AOL-Time Warner merger, said John Papageorge, vice president at Standard Alliance, which developed the application and its purchasing interface.

In addition to being available on AOLTV, the feature will be found on Microsoft's WebTV and UltimateTV services.

Since the merger of America Online and Time Warner, AOL Time Warner executives have said the company will accelerate the fusion of traditional and new media. So far, the company has begun infusing AOL's Internet promotional services into many of its traditional media divisions, such as magazine publishing and the studios.

"We're all excited that this delivers on the promise of AOLTV," said AOL spokeswoman Marta Grutka.

Here's how the promotion works. When someone with an interactive-TV system watches an advertisement for "Blow," an icon will appear on the bottom right-hand corner of the TV screen. If the viewer clicks the icon, a promotion opens on the screen that lets that person buy tickets for a local showing of the movie or receive an e-mail reminder to buy tickets at a later date.

"This is the right thing to do," said David Card, an analyst at Jupiter Research. "The impulse purchasing of tickets based on seeing a trailer of a movie is something I think people will do."

Interactive TV is still developing. AOL has not said how many units of AOLTV it has sold since it launched last year, but it has continued to invest in programming and features for its venture.

Microsoft has aggressively entered the realm with UltimateTV, which combines interactive capabilities with digital recording and DirecTV programming broadcast via satellite.

TV networks such as Viacom's CBS are also beginning to develop interactive features for their shows. For example, this year's NCAA basketball tournament had interactive features, such as trivia, statistics and player profiles, for UltimateTV customers.