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Static Wants To Replicate European Success In U.S.

By | May 22, 2002

      Static2358 hopes to make inroads into the lucrative U.S. market this year. Static, which operates the highly successful PlayJam channel on BSkyB, wants to bring the concept of multiplayer gaming to the U.S. market. It hopes to have agreements with U.S. satellite players in the not too distant future.

      Static2358 CEO Jasper Smith told Interspace in an exclusive interview, “The U.S. is a massive focus for us. We recognise that we can front up to that market and impress the pay-TV operators and gain carriage there, which will be useful for the pay-TV operators as games are a proven tool for reducing churn. We expect to make some announcements in the U.S. over the next couple of months, if not sooner.”

      The statistics make pretty impressive reading. More than 1.6 billion games have been played on PlayJam to date. Satellite operators form a vital part of Static’s focus. “About 50 percent of our revenues are derived from satellite players. I would expect that satellite will form a larger part of our revenues over the next year than cable, around 60 percent. If you look at the U.S. market, there are a lot of satellite boxes already being installed. There is good market penetration there,” commented Smith.

      The question is whether the company can now crack the notoriously difficult U.S. market. With its success in the UK, it would not be wise to bet against Static2358, but it still remains a tough challenge.

      The U.S. operations are getting bigger and forming a vital part of the company’s strategy going forward. Only 12 months ago, it barely had any presence in the U.S. Now, it has 70 people based in cities such as New York, Miami, Denver and Boston.

      Smith said, “Given the size of the U.S. territory, we have ended up being focused on that territory because we think it has got great growth potential. So, to attack that market, we have tried to make our products and brands as localised as possible. We are busy localising PlayJam, so that it is tailored to the U.S. market. We are really excited about the prospects.”

      Static’s work with BSkyB is particularly innovative. In April, it announced the first multiplayer game on PlayJam in the UK enabling viewers from all over to play against one another. It has been trumpeted as one of the first real-time multiplayer gaming on a digital satellite platform. Smith believes it could have a profound impact. “Multiplayer gaming will completely change both the culture and the usage of TV over the next 15 to 20 years. TV creates reactions. It creates commercial, social and cultural reactions since almost the day it was put out. Even at its most embryonic stage, I think it will prove to be popular, but I think it will become one of the cornerstones of interactive TV.”

      –Mark Holmes

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