MUNCIE, Ind., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Television viewers not only prefer the highly competitive nature of interactive television programs, but also enjoy interactive commercials, says a new study from Ball State University. "The Power of Play: Exploring the Impact of the iTV 2-Screen Gaming Experience," conducted by Ball State's Center for Media Design (CMD), done in partnership with cable network GSN, is believed to be the first comprehensive study examining how U.S. consumers interact with television. CMD found the vast majority of participants said competition was a major factor when interacting with game-based programming and advertising. In studying two-screen interactivity, researchers examined how viewers watched television game shows while competing via computer. This "playing-along" changed their viewing experience by allowing them to compete with contestants on the television show as well as people playing online, said Mike Bloxham, CMD's director of testing and assessment. "People who watch game shows generally try to answer questions before the contestants on television, but we found that level of competitiveness increases and the immersive nature of the experience deepens when home viewers have the opportunity to play against people from around the country through an online system," Bloxham said. "At a time when Madison Avenue is putting a great deal of effort into defining and measuring it, we have been able to observe this willingness to not only pay attention to, but enthusiastically engage with ads. People motivated by scoring points during the show were just as eager to earn bonus points answering questions on messages within commercials." Through a combination of field research and analysis by CMD of data collected by third party provider GoldPocket Interactive for GSN over the last four years, the study also found: * On average, seventy-six percent of viewers playing along with the program also interact with advertisers' interactive commercials. * The majority of participants were disappointed if a commercial break did not include an interactive commercial, which may be evidence of demand for more interactivity. * 100 percent of participants said they would be more likely to pay attention to interactive commercials if they were rewarded points to be used for prizes. * 100 percent of the participants recalled interactive commercials and the bonus questions related to the ad. * Participants recommended several retail areas as being ideal for interactivity, including consumer electronics, software, food, * restaurants, automotive and beverage. * Respondents said incentives would encourage them to play more often. Bidding points on vacations or trips, and winning laptop computers and cash were the biggest rewards mentioned. * Most expectations were for smaller rewards such as a coupons, discounts or gift certificates that could be printed. Bloxham said the study shows interactivity is a positive experience for the viewer, advertisers, and GSN, which is fertile ground for exploring the two-screen approach of interacting with television via computer because all of the network's schedule is interactive. "Interactivity has the potential to deliver more value to viewers and advertisers and, therefore, to GSN itself," Bloxham said. "The immersive nature of game shows and other game-based programming obviously lends itself to this approach, but the implications of the study suggest that other types of content can also successfully leverage such interactivity if the creative approach complements the programming. "Little public-domain research to date has explored this apparently symbiotic relationship between content and interactivity or the extent to which the overall viewing experience is impacted and how it influences advertising," he said. GSN partnered with Ball State to provide greater insight into the value of interactivity to both viewers and advertisers, said Chris Raleigh, GSN's senior vice president for ad sales. "In a time when there is a concern that consumers are actively avoiding intrusive advertising, the study shows interactive television is a platform where viewers are asking for more involvement with brands that enhance their experience," he said. "As a result of the study we have created the new 'Interactive Pod,' which is an immersive interactive experience for advertisers that extends up to 90 seconds, and the 'Power Play,' which provides advertisers with multiple interactive opportunities. "We will include these opportunities with the Ball State study results in our upfront presentations that highlight the 'power of play' in interactive television advertising." CMD will make the white paper available online in the coming weeks. About GSN GSN, the network for games, has consistently been the industry's leading producer of interactive television, currently with over 133 hours of such programming per week. Since 2002, GSN's programming has triggered over 25 million iTV plays. In the same period of time GSN has featured over 170 separate advertising campaigns with 34 different companies, in 17 major advertising categories highlighting over 80 brands. GSN's efforts have included work with such advertising categories as pharmaceutical, automotive, travel, retail and packaged goods. Consumer engagement has increased every year with the average interactive viewing time increasing from 24 to 35 minutes, a 46-percent increase from 2002 to 2005. Reaching nearly 60 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. About Ball State University and the Center for Media Design Ball State University, located in Muncie, Ind., is the third-largest public university in Indiana, with more than 18,000 students. Originally a private teacher training school when it opened in 1899, Ball State became a university in 1965. The 1,035-acre campus in Delaware County is an hour's drive northeast of Indianapolis. The Center for Media Design is an R&D facility focused on the creation, testing and practical application of digital technologies and content for business, classroom, home and community. The center's Middletown Media Studies have garnered international attention for their comprehensive observational approach to measuring consumers' daily interactions with and exposure to media.