US20110281620A1 - Systems and methods for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition being broadcast to a user - Google Patents

Systems and methods for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition being broadcast to a user Download PDF

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US20110281620A1
US20110281620A1 US12/779,271 US77927110A US2011281620A1 US 20110281620 A1 US20110281620 A1 US 20110281620A1 US 77927110 A US77927110 A US 77927110A US 2011281620 A1 US2011281620 A1 US 2011281620A1
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user
wagering
user equipment
fantasy sports
wagering opportunity
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US12/779,271
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Zachary Hays
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United Video Properties Inc
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Rovi Technologies Corp
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Assigned to ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION reassignment ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HAYS, ZACHARY
Assigned to UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC. reassignment UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION
Assigned to UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC. reassignment UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION
Assigned to JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: APTIV DIGITAL, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, GEMSTAR DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, INDEX SYSTEMS INC, A BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY, ROVI CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, ROVI GUIDES, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, ROVI SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, STARSIGHT TELECAST, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION
Publication of US20110281620A1 publication Critical patent/US20110281620A1/en
Assigned to UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC., GEMSTAR DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, STARSIGHT TELECAST, INC., INDEX SYSTEMS INC., TV GUIDE INTERNATIONAL, INC., ALL MEDIA GUIDE, LLC, APTIV DIGITAL, INC., ROVI CORPORATION, ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, ROVI SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, ROVI GUIDES, INC. reassignment UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC. PATENT RELEASE Assignors: JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT
Assigned to MORGAN STANLEY SENIOR FUNDING, INC., AS COLLATERAL AGENT reassignment MORGAN STANLEY SENIOR FUNDING, INC., AS COLLATERAL AGENT PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT Assignors: APTIV DIGITAL, INC., GEMSTAR DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, INDEX SYSTEMS INC., ROVI GUIDES, INC., ROVI SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, ROVI TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, SONIC SOLUTIONS LLC, STARSIGHT TELECAST, INC., UNITED VIDEO PROPERTIES, INC., VEVEO, INC.
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3286Type of games
    • G07F17/3288Betting, e.g. on live events, bookmaking

Abstract

A substantially real-time status of an athletic competition may be accessed while it is being broadcast to a user on user equipment. An upcoming event of a pre-determined type in the athletic competition may be detected based on the accessed real-time status. A wagering opportunity may be generated based on the type of the event, where the wagering opportunity may related to an outcome of the upcoming event. The wagering opportunity may be presented to the user via the user equipment.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In known fantasy sports contests, a user (i.e., a fantasy sports contestant) selects a roster, a team, a particular individual, or a group of individuals in a season-long athletic competition. Fantasy sports contests are typically based on real-life team athletic competitions (e.g., football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, etc.), real-life athletic competitions in which individuals compete (e.g., golf, tennis, automotive racing, etc.), and real-life sporting events involving animals (e.g., horse and dog racing). The user is given the ability to take on the role of a fictional general manager with powers that may include the ability to draft, trade, dismiss and otherwise manage the user's fantasy sports contest team selections.
  • Known fantasy sports contest systems provide services that include providing statistical information for real-life athletic competition and tracking users' standings (i.e., rankings) in fantasy sports contests. Known fantasy sports contest systems typically determine a user's standing in a fantasy sports contest based on the performance of the user's fantasy sports contest team selections in real-life athletic competition. For example, a conventional fantasy sports contest system might award five fantasy sports contest points to the user for every goal scored in real-life by a member of the user's fantasy sports contest soccer team. Generally, the user who has accumulated the most fantasy sports contest points by the conclusion of a fantasy sports contest (e.g., the end of a real-life athletic season) is the overall winner of that fantasy sports contest.
  • Fantasy sports contestants may find it desirable to wager with one another based on, for example, which of the fantasy sports contestants accumulates the most fantasy sports contest points in a fantasy sports contest (e.g., for a particular week of the fantasy sports contest, over the entire fantasy sports contest, etc.). Fantasy sports contestants may also find it desirable to wager based on real-life athletic events (e.g., real-life athletic events that are related to the contestants' fantasy sports contest). In particular, because fantasy sports contestants typically closely track real-life athletic events (e.g., to plan favorable trades of the contestants' fantasy sports contest team selections, as a hobby or pastime, for entertainment purposes, etc.), fantasy sports contestants may find it desirable to wager (e.g., with other fantasy sports contestants, through a wagering service) based on the outcomes of these real-life athletic events. Systems and methods for providing opportunities for fantasy sports contests are described in Hughes et al. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/633,020, filed Dec. 8, 2009, and Barber U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/234,349, filed Aug. 30, 2002, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.
  • A need remains for systems and methods that may efficiently generate substantially real-time wagering opportunities for users who are watching a broadcast of an athletic competition on user equipment, and may customize those wagering opportunities based on statistical sports data or other information.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Systems and methods may be provided for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition that is being broadcast to a user on user equipment in accordance with embodiments of the invention. As used herein, a “wagering opportunity” may include not only an opportunity to participate in a wager that has been generated by a system or an individual, but also an opportunity to create a new wager that may be accepted by any suitable individuals.
  • In some embodiments, a substantially real-time status of the athletic competition may be monitored while it is being broadcast. For example, if the athletic competition is a baseball game, the monitored status may include parameters such as the current inning and score, which defensive players are covering various positions on the field, which offensive players are currently on base (if any), the expected batting lineup for the remainder of the inning, who is currently at bat, how many strikes and balls have been recorded against the current batter, which plays have been attempted and the status of those plays, the types of pitches being thrown, and any other suitable information.
  • In some embodiments, an upcoming event of a pre-determined type may be detected based on the monitored real-time status. For instance, it may be detected that a player belonging to the user's fantasy baseball team is expected to come up to bat in the relatively near future. A wagering opportunity may then be generated relating to an outcome of the upcoming event. For instance, a wagering opportunity may be generated relating to whether the player belonging to the user's fantasy baseball league will get a hit, will strike out, or will walk.
  • In some embodiments, the generation of the wagering opportunity may include retrieval of a wagering opportunity template corresponding to the upcoming event of interest and configuration of the template based on parameters of the upcoming event. The configuration may include, for example, determination of statistical odds that a given outcome for the event may occur. The determined odds may affect the decision of whether a particular wagering opportunity is suitable for presentation to the user, the expected payout of a successful wager on the upcoming event, or any other suitable aspects of the wagering opportunity. The configured wagering opportunity may then be presented to the user via the user equipment on which the athletic competition is being broadcast.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
  • FIG. 1 shows an illustrative media guidance screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 shows a second illustrative media guidance screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 3 shows an illustrative user equipment device in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 4 shows an illustrative content delivery system in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 5 shows an illustrative fantasy sports configuration screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 6 shows an illustrative table of wager templates in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 7 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 8 shows an illustrative fantasy sports options screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 9 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering unavailability screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 10 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering participants screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 11 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wager outcome screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 12 shows another illustrative fantasy sports wager outcome screen in accordance with embodiments of the invention;
  • FIG. 13 shows an illustrative flow chart of a first part of a process for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition in accordance with embodiments of the invention; and
  • FIG. 14 shows an illustrative flow chart of a second part of a process for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition in accordance with embodiments of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS
  • In accordance with embodiments of the invention, systems and methods may be provided for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition that is being broadcast on user equipment to a user. A substantially real-time status of the athletic competition may be monitored while it is being broadcast to a user on user equipment. An upcoming event of a pre-determined type in the athletic competition may be detected based on the monitored real-time status. For instance, it may be determined that a player that is being tracked in the user's fantasy sports league may be expected to execute a play in the relatively near future. A wagering opportunity related to a possible outcome of the event may then be generated based on the type of the event. For instance, if certain outcomes of the play have a likelihood above a certain threshold, a wagering opportunity may be generated for that outcome, where the expected payout if the user wins the wager may be based on the determined likelihood. The wagering opportunity may then be presented to the user via the user equipment on which the athletic competition is being broadcast.
  • Although certain examples in this disclosure are illustrated in the context of fantasy sports for purposes of clarity, it will be appreciated that many concepts of the present invention may also be applied outside that context. For instance, embodiments of the invention may permit a user to engage in wagers with other individuals that are not connected to any fantasy sports contest or league, wagers on athletes not on any of the user's fantasy sports teams, wagers on sports for which the user does not belong to any fantasy sports leagues, or wagers on events that take place in any programs (e.g., non-sports programs). Thus, it will be understood that the invention will generally not be limited to systems and methods that are explicitly tied to a fantasy sports. Additionally, although certain examples in this disclosure are illustrated in the context of a user wagering on athletic competitions that are currently being broadcast to the user, it will be appreciated that many concepts of the invention may be applied to wagers on competitions or programs that are not currently being watched by the user, as well as wagers on events that are not being broadcast at all.
  • The amount of media (e.g., broadcasts of sporting events) available to users in any given media delivery system can be substantial. Consequently, many users desire a form of media guidance through an interface that allows users to efficiently navigate media selections and easily identify media that they may desire. An application which provides such guidance is referred to herein as an interactive media guidance application or, sometimes, a media guidance application or a guidance application.
  • Interactive media guidance applications may take various forms depending on the media for which they provide guidance. One typical type of media guidance application is an interactive television program guide. Interactive television program guides (sometimes referred to as electronic program guides) are well-known guidance applications that, among other things, allow users to navigate among and locate many types of media content including conventional television programming (provided via traditional broadcast, cable, satellite, Internet, or other means), as well as pay-per-view programs, on-demand programs (as in video-on-demand (VOD) systems), Internet content (e.g., streaming media, downloadable media, Webcasts, etc.), and other types of media or video content. Guidance applications also allow users to navigate among and locate content related to the video content including, for example, fantasy sports, video clips, articles, advertisements, chat sessions, games, etc. Guidance applications also allow users to navigate among and locate multimedia content. The term multimedia is defined herein as media and content that utilizes at least two different content forms, such as text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms. Multimedia content may be recorded and played, displayed or accessed by information content processing devices, such as computerized and electronic devices, but can also be part of a live performance. It should be understood that the invention embodiments that are discussed in relation to media content are also applicable to other types of content, such as video, audio and/or multimedia.
  • With the advent of the Internet, mobile computing, and high-speed wireless networks, users are accessing media on personal computers (PCs) and other devices on which they traditionally did not, such as hand-held computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile telephones, or other mobile devices. On these devices users are able to navigate among and locate the same media available through a television. Consequently, media guidance is necessary on these devices, as well. The guidance provided may be for media content available only through a television, for media content available only through one or more of these devices, or for media content available both through a television and one or more of these devices. The media guidance applications may be provided as on-line applications (e.g., provided on a web-site), or as stand-alone applications or clients on hand-held computers, PDAs, mobile telephones, or other mobile devices. The various devices and platforms that may implement media guidance applications are described in more detail below.
  • One of the functions of the media guidance application is to provide media listings and media information to users. FIGS. 1-2 show illustrative display screens that may be used to provide media guidance, and in particular media listings. The display screens shown in FIGS. 1-2, 5, and 7-12 may be implemented on any suitable device or platform. While the displays of FIGS. 1-2 and 5 are illustrated as full screen displays, they may also be fully or partially overlaid over media content being displayed. A user may indicate a desire to access media information by selecting a selectable option provided in a display screen (e.g., a menu option, a listings option, an icon, a hyperlink, etc.) or pressing a dedicated button (e.g., a GUIDE button) on a remote control or other user input interface or device. In response to the user's indication, the media guidance application may provide a display screen with media information organized in one of several ways, such as by time and channel in a grid, by time, by channel, by media type, by category (e.g., movies, sports, news, children, or other categories of programming), or other predefined, user-defined, or other organization criteria.
  • FIG. 1 shows illustrative grid program listings display 100 arranged by time and channel that also enables access to different types of media content in a single display. Display 100 may include grid 102 with: (1) a column of channel/media type identifiers 104, where each channel/media type identifier (which is a cell in the column) identifies a different channel or media type available; and (2) a row of time identifiers 106, where each time identifier (which is a cell in the row) identifies a time block of programming. Grid 102 also includes cells of program listings, such as program listing 108, where each listing provides the title of the program provided on the listing's associated channel and time. With a user input device, a user can select program listings by moving highlight region 110. Information relating to the program listing selected by highlight region 110 may be provided in program information region 112. Region 112 may include, for example, the program title, the program description, the time the program is provided (if applicable), the channel the program is on (if applicable), the program's rating, and other desired information.
  • In addition to providing access to linear programming provided according to a schedule, the media guidance application also provides access to non-linear programming which is not provided according to a schedule. Non-linear programming may include content from different media sources including on-demand media content (e.g., VOD), Internet content (e.g., streaming media, downloadable media, etc.), locally stored media content (e.g., video content stored on a digital video recorder (DVR), digital video disc (DVD), video cassette, compact disc (CD), etc.), or other time-insensitive media content. On-demand content may include both movies and original media content provided by a particular media provider (e.g., HBO On Demand providing “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”). HBO ON DEMAND is a service mark owned by Time Warner Company L. P. et al. and THE SOPRANOS and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM are trademarks owned by the Home Box Office, Inc. Internet content may include web events, such as a chat session or Webcast, or content available on-demand as streaming media or downloadable media through an Internet web site or other Internet access (e.g. FTP).
  • Grid 102 may provide listings for non-linear programming including on-demand listing 114, recorded media listing 116, and Internet content listing 118. A display combining listings for content from different types of media sources is sometimes referred to as a “mixed-media” display. The various permutations of the types of listings that may be displayed that are different than display 100 may be based on user selection or guidance application definition (e.g., a display of only recorded and broadcast listings, only on-demand and broadcast listings, etc.). As illustrated, listings 114, 116, and 118 are shown as spanning the entire time block displayed in grid 102 to indicate that selection of these listings may provide access to a display dedicated to on-demand listings, recorded listings, or Internet listings, respectively. In other embodiments, listings for these media types may be included directly in grid 102. Additional listings may be displayed in response to the user selecting one of the navigational icons 120. (Pressing an arrow key on a user input device may affect the display in a similar manner as selecting navigational icons 120.)
  • Display 100 may also include video region 122, advertisement 124, and options region 126. Video region 122 may allow the user to view and/or preview programs that are currently available, will be available, or were available to the user. The content of video region 122 may correspond to, or be independent from, one of the listings displayed in grid 102. Grid displays including a video region are sometimes referred to as picture-in-guide (PIG) displays. PIG displays and their functionalities are described in greater detail in Satterfield et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,564,378, issued May 13, 2003 and Yuen et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,239,794, issued May 29, 2001, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties. PIG displays may be included in other media guidance application display screens of the present invention.
  • Advertisement 124 may provide an advertisement for media content that, depending on a viewer's access rights (e.g., for subscription programming), is currently available for viewing, will be available for viewing in the future, or may never become available for viewing, and may correspond to or be unrelated to one or more of the media listings in grid 102. Advertisement 124 may also be for products or services related or unrelated to the media content displayed in grid 102. Advertisement 124 may be selectable and provide further information about media content, provide information about a product or a service, enable purchasing of media content, a product, or a service, provide media content relating to the advertisement, etc. Advertisement 124 may be targeted based on a user's profile/preferences, monitored user activity, the type of display provided, or on other suitable targeted advertisement bases.
  • While advertisement 124 is shown as rectangular or banner shaped, advertisements may be provided in any suitable size, shape, and location in a guidance application display. For example, advertisement 124 may be provided as a rectangular shape that is horizontally adjacent to grid 102. This is sometimes referred to as a panel advertisement. In addition, advertisements may be overlaid over media content or a guidance application display or embedded within a display. Advertisements may also include text, images, rotating images, video clips, or other types of media content. Advertisements may be stored in the user equipment with the guidance application, in a database connected to the user equipment, in a remote location (including streaming media servers), or on other storage means or a combination of these locations. Providing advertisements in a media guidance application is discussed in greater detail in, for example, Knudson et al., International Patent Publication No. WO 99/45702, published Sep. 10, 1999, Ward, III et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,756,997, issued Jun. 29, 2004, and Schein et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,388,714, issued May 14, 2002, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties. It will be appreciated that advertisements may be included in other media guidance application display screens of the present invention.
  • Options region 126 may allow the user to access different types of media content, media guidance application displays, and/or media guidance application features. Options region 126 may be part of display 100 (and other display screens of the present invention), or may be invoked by a user by selecting an on-screen option or pressing a dedicated or assignable button on a user input device. The selectable options within options region 126 may concern features related to program listings in grid 102 or may include options available from a main menu display. Features related to program listings may include searching for other air times or ways of receiving a program, recording a program, enabling series recording of a program, setting program and/or channel as a favorite, purchasing a program, or other features. Options available from a main menu display may include fantasy sports options, search options, VOD options, parental control options, access to various types of listing displays, subscribe to a premium service, edit a user's profile, access a browse overlay, or other options.
  • The media guidance application may be personalized based on a user's preferences. A personalized media guidance application allows a user to customize displays and features to create a personalized “experience” with the media guidance application. This personalized experience may be created by allowing a user to input these customizations and/or by the media guidance application monitoring user activity to determine various user preferences. Users may access their personalized guidance application by logging in or otherwise identifying themselves to the guidance application. Customization of the media guidance application may be made in accordance with a user profile. The customizations may include varying presentation schemes (e.g., color scheme of displays, font size of text, etc.), aspects of media content listings displayed (e.g., programming related to fantasy sports, only HDTV programming, user-specified broadcast channels based on favorite channel selections, re-ordering the display of channels, recommended media content, etc.), desired recording features (e.g., recording or series recordings for particular users, recording quality, etc.), parental control settings, and other desired customizations.
  • The media guidance application may allow a user to provide user profile information or may automatically compile user profile information. The media guidance application may, for example, monitor the media the user accesses and/or other interactions the user may have with the guidance application. Additionally, the media guidance application may obtain all or part of other user profiles that are related to a particular user (e.g., from other web sites on the Internet the user accesses, such as www.tvguide.com, from other media guidance applications the user accesses, from other interactive applications the user accesses, from a handheld device of the user, etc.), and/or obtain information about the user from other sources that the media guidance application may access. As a result, a user can be provided with a unified guidance application experience across the user's different devices. This type of user experience is described in greater detail below in connection with FIG. 4. Additional personalized media guidance application features are described in greater detail in Ellis et al., International Patent Publication No. WO 00/04707, published Jan. 27, 2000, Boyer et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,165,098, issued Jan. 16, 2007, and Ellis et al., International Patent Publication No. WO 02/069636, published Sep. 6, 2002, which are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.
  • Another display arrangement for providing media guidance is shown in FIG. 2. Video mosaic display 200 includes selectable options 202 for media content information organized based on media type, genre, and/or other organization criteria. In display 200, television listings option 204 is selected, thus providing listings 206, 208, 210, and 212 as broadcast program listings. Unlike the listings from FIG. 1, the listings in display 200 are not limited to simple text (e.g., the program title) and icons to describe media. Rather, in display 200 the listings may provide graphical images including cover art, still images from the media content, video clip previews, live video from the media content, or other types of media that indicate to a user the media content being described by the listing. Each of the graphical listings may also be accompanied by text to provide further information about the media content associated with the listing. For example, listing 208 may include more than one portion, including media portion 214 and text portion 216. Media portion 214 and/or text portion 216 may be selectable to view video in full-screen or to view program listings related to the video displayed in media portion 214 (e.g., to view listings for the channel that the video is displayed on).
  • The listings in display 200 are of different sizes (i.e., listing 206 is larger than listings 208, 210, and 212), but if desired, all the listings may be the same size. Listings may be of different sizes or graphically accentuated to indicate degrees of interest to the user or to emphasize certain content, as desired by the media provider or based on user preferences. Various systems and methods for graphically accentuating media listings are discussed in, for example, Yates, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/324,202, filed Dec. 29, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • Users may access media content and the media guidance application (and its display screens described above and below) from one or more of their user equipment devices. FIG. 3 shows a generalized embodiment of illustrative user equipment device 300. More specific implementations of user equipment devices are discussed below in connection with FIG. 4. User equipment device 300 may receive media content and data via input/output (hereinafter “I/O”) path 302. I/O path 302 may provide media content (e.g., broadcast programming, on-demand programming, fantasy sports content, Internet content, and other video or audio) and data to control circuitry 304, which includes processing circuitry 306 and storage 308. Control circuitry 304 may be used to send and receive commands, requests, and other suitable data using I/O path 302. I/O path 302 may connect control circuitry 304 (and specifically processing circuitry 306) to one or more communications paths (described below). I/O functions may be provided by one or more of these communications paths, but are shown as a single path in FIG. 3 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing.
  • Control circuitry 304 may be based on any suitable processing circuitry 306 such as processing circuitry based on one or more microprocessors, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, programmable logic devices, etc. In some embodiments, control circuitry 304 executes instructions for a media guidance application stored in memory (i.e., storage 308). In client-server based embodiments, control circuitry 304 may include communications circuitry suitable for communicating with a guidance application server or other networks or servers. Communications circuitry may include a cable modem, an integrated services digital network (ISDN) modem, a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem, a telephone modem, or a wireless modem for communications with other equipment. Such communications may involve the Internet or any other suitable communications networks or paths (which is described in more detail in connection with FIG. 4). In addition, communications circuitry may include circuitry that enables peer-to-peer communication of user equipment devices, or communication of user equipment devices in locations remote from each other (described in more detail below).
  • Memory (e.g., random-access memory, read-only memory, or any other suitable memory), hard drives, optical drives, or any other suitable fixed or removable storage devices (e.g., DVD recorder, CD recorder, video cassette recorder, or other suitable recording device) may be provided as storage 308 that is part of control circuitry 304. Storage 308 may include one or more of the above types of storage devices. For example, user equipment device 300 may include a hard drive for a DVR (sometimes called a personal video recorder, or PVR) and a DVD recorder as a secondary storage device. Storage 308 may be used to store various types of media described herein and guidance application data, including program information, guidance application settings, user preferences or profile information, or other data used in operating the guidance application. Nonvolatile memory may also be used (e.g., to launch a boot-up routine and other instructions).
  • Control circuitry 304 may include video generating circuitry and tuning circuitry, such as one or more analog tuners, one or more MPEG-2 decoders or other digital decoding circuitry, high-definition tuners, or any other suitable tuning or video circuits or combinations of such circuits. Encoding circuitry (e.g., for converting over-the-air, analog, or digital signals to MPEG signals for storage) may also be provided. Control circuitry 304 may also include scaler circuitry for upconverting and downconverting media into the preferred output format of the user equipment 300. Circuitry 304 may also include digital-to-analog converter circuitry and analog-to-digital converter circuitry for converting between digital and analog signals. The tuning and encoding circuitry may be used by the user equipment to receive and to display, to play, or to record media content. The tuning and encoding circuitry may also be used to receive guidance data. The circuitry described herein, including for example, the tuning, video generating, encoding, decoding, scaler, and analog/digital circuitry, may be implemented using software running on one or more general purpose or specialized processors. Multiple tuners may be provided to handle simultaneous tuning functions (e.g., watch and record functions, picture-in-picture (PIP) functions, multiple-tuner recording, etc.). If storage 308 is provided as a separate device from user equipment 300, the tuning and encoding circuitry (including multiple tuners) may be associated with storage 308.
  • A user may control the control circuitry 304 using user input interface 310. User input interface 310 may be any suitable user interface, such as a remote control, mouse, trackball, keypad, keyboard, touch screen, touch pad, stylus input, joystick, voice recognition interface, or other user input interfaces. Display 312 may be provided as a stand-alone device or integrated with other elements of user equipment device 300. Display 312 may be one or more of a monitor, a television, a liquid crystal display (LCD) for a mobile device, or any other suitable equipment for displaying visual images. In some embodiments, display 312 may be HDTV-capable. Speakers 314 may be provided as integrated with other elements of user equipment device 300 or may be stand-alone units. The audio component of videos and other media content displayed on display 312 may be played through speakers 314. In some embodiments, the audio may be distributed to a receiver (not shown), which processes and outputs the audio via speakers 314.
  • The guidance application may be implemented using any suitable architecture. For example, it may be a stand-alone application wholly implemented on user equipment device 300. In such an approach, instructions of the application are stored locally, and data for use by the application is downloaded on a periodic basis (e.g., from the VBI of a television channel, from an out-of-band feed, or using another suitable approach). In another embodiment, the media guidance application is a client-server based application. Data for use by a thick or thin client implemented on user equipment device 300 is retrieved on-demand by issuing requests to a server remote to the user equipment device 300. In one example of a client-server based guidance application, control circuitry 304 runs a web browser that interprets web pages provided by a remote server.
  • In yet other embodiments, the media guidance application is downloaded and interpreted or otherwise run by an interpreter or virtual machine (run by control circuitry 304). In some embodiments, the guidance application may be encoded in the ETV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), received by control circuitry 304 as part of a suitable feed, and interpreted by a user agent running on control circuitry 304. For example, the guidance application may be a EBIF widget. In other embodiments, the guidance application may be defined by a series of JAVA-based files that are received and run by a local virtual machine or other suitable middleware executed by control circuitry 304. In some of such embodiments (e.g., those employing MPEG-2 or other digital media encoding schemes), the guidance application may be, for example, encoded and transmitted in an MPEG-2 object carousel with the MPEG audio and video packets of a program.
  • User equipment device 300 of FIG. 3 can be implemented in system 400 of FIG. 4 as user television equipment 402, user computer equipment 404, wireless user communications device 406, or any other type of user equipment suitable for accessing media, such as a non-portable gaming machine. For simplicity, these devices may be referred to herein collectively as user equipment or user equipment devices. User equipment devices, on which a media guidance application is implemented, may function as a standalone device or may be part of a network of devices. Various network configurations of devices may be implemented and are discussed in more detail below.
  • User television equipment 402 may include a set-top box, an integrated receiver decoder (IRD) for handling satellite television, a television set, a digital storage device, a DVD recorder, a video-cassette recorder (VCR), a local media server, or other user television equipment. One or more of these devices may be integrated to be a single device, if desired. User computer equipment 404 may include a PC, a laptop, a tablet, a WebTV box, a personal computer television (PC/TV), a PC media server, a PC media center, or other user computer equipment. WEBTV is a trademark owned by Microsoft Corp. Wireless user communications device 406 may include PDAs, a mobile telephone, a portable video player, a portable music player, a portable gaming machine, or other wireless devices.
  • It should be noted that with the advent of television tuner cards for PC's, WebTV, and the integration of video into other user equipment devices, the lines have become blurred when trying to classify a device as one of the above devices. In fact, each of user television equipment 402, user computer equipment 404, and wireless user communications device 406 may utilize at least some of the system features described above in connection with FIG. 3 and, as a result, include flexibility with respect to the type of media content available on the device. For example, user television equipment 402 may be Internet-enabled allowing for access to Internet content, while user computer equipment 404 may include a tuner allowing for access to television programming. The media guidance application may also have the same layout on the various different types of user equipment or may be tailored to the display capabilities of the user equipment. For example, on user computer equipment, the guidance application may be provided as a web site accessed by a web browser. In another example, the guidance application may be scaled down for wireless user communications devices.
  • In system 400, there is typically more than one of each type of user equipment device but only one of each is shown in FIG. 4 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing. In addition, each user may utilize more than one type of user equipment device (e.g., a user may have a television set and a computer) and also more than one of each type of user equipment device (e.g., a user may have a PDA and a mobile telephone and/or multiple television sets).
  • The user may also set various settings to maintain consistent media guidance application settings across in-home devices and remote devices. Settings include those described herein, as well as channel and program favorites, programming preferences that the guidance application utilizes to make programming recommendations, fantasy sports preferences, display preferences, and other desirable guidance settings. For example, if a user sets a channel as a favorite on, for example, the web site www.tvguide.com on their personal computer at their office, the same channel would appear as a favorite on the user's in-home devices (e.g., user television equipment and user computer equipment) as well as the user's mobile devices, if desired. Therefore, changes made on one user equipment device can change the guidance experience on another user equipment device, regardless of whether they are the same or a different type of user equipment device. In addition, the changes made may be based on settings input by a user, as well as user activity monitored by the guidance application.
  • The user equipment devices may be coupled to communications network 414. Namely, user television equipment 402, user computer equipment 404, and wireless user communications device 406 are coupled to communications network 414 via communications paths 408, 410, and 412, respectively. Communications network 414 may be one or more networks including the Internet, a mobile phone network, mobile device (e.g., Blackberry) network, cable network, public switched telephone network, or other types of communications network or combinations of communications networks. BLACKBERRY is a service mark owned by Research In Motion Limited Corp. Paths 408, 410, and 412 may separately or together include one or more communications paths, such as, a satellite path, a fiber-optic path, a cable path, a path that supports Internet communications (e.g., IPTV), free-space connections (e.g., for broadcast or other wireless signals), or any other suitable wired or wireless communications path or combination of such paths. Path 412 is drawn with dotted lines to indicate that in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 4 it is a wireless path and paths 408 and 410 are drawn as solid lines to indicate they are wired paths (although these paths may be wireless paths, if desired). Communications with the user equipment devices may be provided by one or more of these communications paths, but are shown as a single path in FIG. 4 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing.
  • Although communications paths are not drawn between user equipment devices, these devices may communicate directly with each other via communication paths, such as those described above in connection with paths 408, 410, and 412, as well other short-range point-to-point communication paths, such as USB cables, IEEE 1394 cables, wireless paths (e.g., Bluetooth, infrared, IEEE 802-11x, etc.), or other short-range communication via wired or wireless paths. BLUETOOTH is a certification mark owned by Bluetooth SIG, INC. The user equipment devices may also communicate with each other directly through an indirect path via communications network 414.
  • System 400 includes media content source 416, media guidance data source 418, and sports data source 424 coupled to communications network 414 via communication paths 420, 422, and 426, respectively. Paths 420, 422, and 426 may include any of the communication paths described above in connection with paths 408, 410, and 412. Communications with media content source 416, media guidance data source 418, and sports data source 424 may be exchanged over one or more communications paths, but are shown as a single path in FIG. 4 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing. In addition, there may be more than one of each of media content source 416, media guidance data source 418, and sports data source 424, but only one of each is shown in FIG. 4 to avoid overcomplicating the drawing. (The different types of each of these sources are discussed below.) If desired, any two or more of media content source 416, media guidance data source 418, and sports data source 424 may be integrated as one source device. Although communications between sources 416, 418, and 424 with user equipment devices 402, 404, and 406 are shown as through communications network 414, in some embodiments, sources 416, 418, and 424 may communicate directly with user equipment devices 402, 404, and 406 via communication paths (not shown) such as those described above in connection with paths 408, 410, and 412.
  • Media content source 416 may include one or more types of media distribution equipment including a television distribution facility, cable system headend, satellite distribution facility, programming sources (e.g., television broadcasters, such as NBC, ABC, HBO, etc.), intermediate distribution facilities and/or servers, Internet providers, on-demand media servers, and other media content providers. NBC is a trademark owned by the National Broadcasting Company, Inc., ABC is a trademark owned by the ABC, INC., and HBO is a trademark owned by the Home Box Office, Inc. Media content source 416 may be the originator of media content (e.g., a television broadcaster, a Webcast provider, etc.) or may not be the originator of media content (e.g., an on-demand media content provider, an Internet provider of video content of broadcast programs for downloading, etc.). Media content source 416 may include cable sources, satellite providers, on-demand providers, Internet providers, or other providers of media content. Media content source 416 may also include a remote media server used to store different types of media content (including video content selected by a user), in a location remote from any of the user equipment devices. Systems and methods for remote storage of media content, and providing remotely stored media content to user equipment are discussed in greater detail in connection with Ellis et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,673,314, issued Mar. 2, 2010, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • Media guidance data source 418 may provide media guidance data, such as media listings, media-related information (e.g., broadcast times, broadcast channels, media titles, media descriptions, ratings information (e.g., parental control ratings, critic's ratings, etc.), genre or category information, actor information, logo data for broadcasters' or providers' logos, etc.), media format (e.g., standard definition, high definition, etc.), advertisement information (e.g., text, images, media clips, etc.), on-demand information, and any other type of guidance data that is helpful for a user to navigate among and locate desired media selections.
  • Media guidance application data may be provided to the user equipment devices using any suitable approach. In some embodiments, the guidance application may be a stand-alone interactive television program guide that receives program guide data via a data feed (e.g., a continuous feed, trickle feed, or data in the vertical blanking interval of a channel). Program schedule data and other guidance data may be provided to the user equipment on a television channel sideband, in the vertical blanking interval of a television channel, using an in-band digital signal, using an out-of-band digital signal, or by any other suitable data transmission technique. Program schedule data and other guidance data may be provided to user equipment on multiple analog or digital television channels. Program schedule data and other guidance data may be provided to the user equipment with any suitable frequency (e.g., continuously, daily, a user-specified period of time, a system-specified period of time, in response to a request from user equipment, etc.). In some approaches, guidance data from media guidance data source 418 may be provided to users' equipment using a client-server approach. For example, a guidance application client residing on the user's equipment may initiate sessions with source 418 to obtain guidance data when needed. Media guidance data source 418 may provide user equipment devices 402, 404, and 406 the media guidance application itself or software updates for the media guidance application.
  • Media guidance applications may be, for example, stand-alone applications implemented on user equipment devices. In other embodiments, media guidance applications may be client-server applications where only the client resides on the user equipment device. For example, media guidance applications may be implemented partially as a client application on control circuitry 304 of user equipment device 300 and partially on a remote server as a server application (e.g., media guidance data source 418). The guidance application displays may be generated by the media guidance data source 418 and transmitted to the user equipment devices. The media guidance data source 418 may also transmit data for storage on the user equipment, which then generates the guidance application displays based on instructions processed by control circuitry.
  • Sports data source 424 may provide data of any of the types that may be provided by media content source 416 and media guidance data source 418. Sports data source 424 may include any equipment that may be included in media content source 416. In accordance with embodiments of the invention, sports data source 424 may provide data used in various sports-related applications that may run at least partially on user equipment 300 or remotely, including applications that allow a user to participate in fantasy sports contests and place wagers related to fantasy sports. For example, sports data source 424 may provide rules relating to administration of fantasy sports teams and leagues, statistics related to past sporting events and individual player performance, substantially real-time status updates for ongoing athletic competitions, profiles of users participating in fantasy sports leagues (including point totals, standings, players included in users' fantasy sports teams, information on other individuals in each user's fantasy sports league, and other suitable information), rules governing potential wagering opportunities that may be presented to or proposed by the user, the status of past or pending wagers, or any other suitable information or combinations thereof. The data provided by sports data source 424 may be created and updated in any suitable way. For instance, sports data source 424 may exchange information with providers of substantially real-time sports competition status and statistics, with companies that administer fantasy sports leagues, with media content providers, with user equipment 402, 404, or 406, or with any other suitable entities or combinations thereof.
  • Media guidance system 400 is intended to illustrate a number of approaches, or network configurations, by which user equipment devices and sources of media content and guidance data may communicate with each other for the purpose of accessing media and providing media guidance. The present invention may be applied in any one or a subset of these approaches, or in a system employing other approaches for delivering media and providing media guidance. The following three approaches provide specific illustrations of the generalized example of FIG. 4.
  • In one approach, user equipment devices may communicate with each other within a home network. User equipment devices can communicate with each other directly via short-range point-to-point communication schemes describe above, via indirect paths through a hub or other similar device provided on a home network, or via communications network 414. Each of the multiple individuals in a single home may operate different user equipment devices on the home network. As a result, it may be desirable for various media guidance information or settings to be communicated between the different user equipment devices. For example, it may be desirable for users to maintain consistent media guidance application settings on different user equipment devices within a home network, as described in greater detail in Ellis et al., International Patent Publication No. WO 00/04707, published Jan. 27, 2000. Different types of user equipment devices in a home network may also communicate with each other to transmit media content. For example, a user may transmit media content from user computer equipment to a portable video player or portable music player.
  • In a second approach, users may have multiple types of user equipment by which they access media content and obtain media guidance. For example, some users may have home networks that are accessed by in-home and mobile devices. Users may control in-home devices via a media guidance application implemented on a remote device. For example, users may access an online media guidance application on a website via a personal computer at their office, or a mobile device such as a PDA or web-enabled mobile telephone. The user may set various settings (e.g., recordings, reminders, or other settings) on the online guidance application to control the user's in-home equipment. The online guide may control the user's equipment directly, or by communicating with a media guidance application on the user's in-home equipment. Various systems and methods for user equipment devices communicating, where the user equipment devices are in locations remote from each other, is discussed in, for example, Ellis et al., International Patent Publication No. WO 00/04709, published Jan. 27, 2000, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • In a third approach, users of user equipment devices inside and outside a home can use their media guidance application to communicate directly with media content source 416 to access media content. Specifically, within a home, users of user television equipment 404 and user computer equipment 406 may access the media guidance application to navigate among and locate desirable media content. Users may also access the media guidance application outside of the home using wireless user communications devices 406 to navigate among and locate desirable media content.
  • It will be appreciated that while the discussion of media content has focused on video content, the principles of media guidance can be applied to other types of media content, such as music, images, etc.
  • FIG. 5 shows an illustrative fantasy sports configuration screen 500 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports configuration screen 500 may be accessed in any suitable way, such as via navigation of menus and options provided in an interactive media guidance application, by pressing a dedicated “Sports” button in user interface 310 (FIG. 3), or using any other suitable techniques or combinations thereof. Fantasy sports configuration screen 500 may enable a user to customize various options affecting how she interacts with various fantasy sports leagues using user equipment 300. For instance, options 502, 503, and 504 may allow the user to configure options regarding how a fantasy sports team roster is created, how fantasy sports team members are traded with other participants in the fantasy sports league, and how current standings in the league are updated and reported, respectively.
  • In accordance with embodiments of the invention, option 506 may allow the user to configure aspects of how real-time wagering on athletic competitions broadcast on user equipment 300 (FIG. 3) is performed. In the example depicted in FIG. 5, the downward-facing arrow at the lefthand side of option 506 may indicate that the real-time wagering options have been selected and draw the user's attention to the individual options below. Radio buttons 508 may allow the user to select whether real-time wagering opportunities will be generated automatically by the interactive program guide or another application, whether the user will be expected to manually propose wagering opportunities, or whether real-time wagering will be disabled. In some embodiments, turning real-time wagering “Off” may hide or gray out options 510, 512, 514, 516, 518, 520, and 522, or otherwise make them inaccessible until the “Auto” or “Manual” option is selected.
  • Option 510 may allow a user to select one or more sports for which real-time wagering will be enabled, using any suitable interface. In FIG. 5, option 510 is shown with a drop-down menu allowing only a single sport to be selected, but it will be appreciated that other input options are available (e.g., keyword searching, selection of multiple options from a list, etc.). If multiple sports are selected, options 512, 514, 516, 518, 520, and 522 may be presented for each of the selected sports. In the example shown in FIG. 5, the user has elected to enable real-time wagering for baseball. Although many of the illustrative examples discussed herein pertain to baseball, it will be appreciated that concepts of the invention may be used with a wide variety of sports, including but not limited to football, basketball, hockey, rugby, soccer, tennis, golf, boxing, and racing (e.g., automotive, horse, dog, etc.), and the invention is not limited to any particular sport or athletic competition.
  • Continuing with this example, option 512 may allow the user to select a league corresponding to the sport selected in option 510, as the user may participate in any of a number of different available fantasy sports leagues. Here, the user has indicated in option 512 that he would like to engage in real-time wagering based on his baseball team in the Yahoo! Fantasy sports league. Fantasy sports configuration screen 500 may also allow a user to input account login information in username field 514 and password field 516, using any suitable techniques (e.g., a graphical keyboard that appears when the user selects either of those fields). Entering such account information would allow the application performing real-time wagering to receive and update information on the user's fantasy sports team, such as the athletes on the user's team roster, the fantasy sports points that the user has accrued during the current season, information on the other individuals currently engaged in a particular fantasy sports contest with the user (which may be much smaller than the universe of individuals participating in the overall league, which in this example is Yahoo! Fantasy baseball), the user's standing within the contest she is participating in, or any other suitable information. In some embodiments, if the user does not supply this login information using fields 514 and 516, the application may prompt the user for account login information when a wagering opportunity is first presented to the user.
  • Options 518, 520, and 522 may be used to configure default wagering options for the user. For example, option 518 may be used to select what type of rewards the user would like to wager on. In FIG. 5, the user has indicated in option 518 that she would like to win or lose contest points, which will affect the user's standing in the fantasy baseball league. The user may also indicate, for example, that she would like to wager for money, specific merchandise, rewards points that may be redeemed for merchandise, or any other suitable type of reward. If the reward selected includes money, the user may also be asked for credit card or other payment information, in order to facilitate automatic crediting and debiting of wagering results. In some embodiments, the user may change the type of rewards being wagered on each time a wagering opportunity is accepted.
  • Option 520 may allow the user to enter a default bet corresponding to the type of reward selected in option 518. For example, the user may choose to bet a default amount of 100 points, or five dollars, depending on whether points or cash was selected in option 518. In some embodiments, the user may change the amount wagered each time a wagering opportunity is accepted.
  • Option 522 may allow the user to select who may participate in any given wager. In the example shown in FIG. 5, the user has chosen to open up wagering to everyone who participates in the Yahoo! Fantasy baseball league. Of course, not all members of that league will participate in every wagering opportunity that is presented to the user, but under this selection none of them will be precluded from participating in a wager with the user. The user may also choose, for example, to engage in wagers only with members in a specific contest, or with a select group of friends or other individuals. In some embodiments, real-time wagering may be performed using a pari-mutuel approach, where the payout for a successful wager may be determined based on the number and disposition of other bets for the same wager. In some embodiments, the user may opt to perform wagers only with the “system,” in which case wagers may be performed not with other individuals but with the guidance application, the company managing the fantasy sports league, a sponsor, or any other suitable entity.
  • It will be noted that the options and layout depicted in FIG. 5 are illustrative, and other options and layouts are contemplated. Once a user has entered her preferred fantasy sports configuration, the data may be registered by selecting “OK” option 524 (e.g., using a soft key “A” in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)). Alternatively, the user may return to the previous menu or screen by selecting “Back” option 526 (e.g., using a soft key “B” in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)).
  • FIG. 6 shows an illustrative table 600 of wager templates in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Table 600 may be stored in any suitable location, such as storage 308 on user equipment 300 (FIG. 3) or in any of sources 416, 418, and 424 (FIG. 4), in any suitable data structures, such as arrays or hash tables. In accordance with embodiments of the invention, table 600 may map particular events, listed in column 602, that may occur during any athletic competition with a set of potential wagers, listed in column 604, corresponding to that event. A particular set of potential wagers corresponding to an event may be referred to herein as a “template” for a wagering opportunity. The illustrative table 600 shown in FIG. 6 is for baseball, but it will be appreciated that similar tables may be prepared for other sports. Table 600 may be used to generate wagering opportunities for the user when it is determined that one of the events listed in column 602 is expected to occur in the relatively near future in an athletic competition that is being broadcast to the user, as explained in greater detail below.
  • In this illustrative example, event 606 may correspond to a batter being up to bat, with no players currently on base. In some embodiments, this event will only trigger a potential wagering opportunity if the batter in question belongs to a fantasy sports team of the user. In other embodiments, the athlete being wagered on need not belong to the user's fantasy sports team. For instance, the user may choose to be presented with wagers for any of several favorite athletes, which the user may designate in any suitable manner. Potential wagers 608 may indicate wagers that the user may engage in when event 606 occurs. For example, the user may choose to wager that the batter will obtain a hit, strike out, or walk. In some embodiments, potential wagers 608 may be organized in a hierarchical fashion. For instance, not only may the user place a wager on the batter getting a hit, but the user may also wager on the particular type of hit expected (e.g., single, double, triple, or home run). In accordance with embodiments of the invention, potential wagers may be qualified before being presented to the user based on various parameters, as explained in greater detail in connection with FIG. 7.
  • In this example, event 610 may correspond again to a batter being up, but this time with at least one man on base. Here, potential wagers 612 include all potential wagers 608, which may be available for any at-bat. The inclusion of wagers 608 is indicated by the entry labeled “[At bat, no one on base],” corresponding to event 606. In practice, such cross-referencing may be accomplished in any suitable way, such as by storing a pointer to potential wagers 608. Potential wagers 612 may additionally include other potential wagers corresponding to the possibility that a hit is obtained, namely, that the hit results in a double play or a run batted in. These potential wagers may be sub-categories of the general wager corresponding to a hit, just as the possibilities of obtaining a single, double, triple, or home run were sub-categories. Potential wagers 612 may also include a new category that is only possible when there is at least one man on base, that is, that a player on base will attempt to steal a base, an attempt that may be successful or unsuccessful. Thus, the user may be presented with an opportunity to wager that such an attempt will occur, and may also wager on the expected outcome of that attempt.
  • In some embodiments, when it is determined that an event listed in column 602 will occur in the near future, not all potential wagers corresponding to the event will be presented to the user. Rather, as explained in greater detail below, the potential wagers will be qualified according to any suitable criteria (e.g., statistical likelihood of a particular outcome occurring), and only potential wagers that are deemed suitable (e.g., possessing an outcome likelihood greater than a certain threshold) will be presented.
  • Other events and potential wagers may be included in table 600, which is meant to be illustrative and not exhaustive. It will be appreciated that, at any given moment in an athletic competition, several events listed in column 602 may be relevant. For instance, another possible event is the beginning of a new inning, triggering potential wagers such as the number of expected points to be scored by a given team during that inning. Of course, when a new inning begins, event 606 may also be triggered because at least three players from each team will be expected to come up to bat. Thus, events listed in column 602 need not be mutually exclusive, and may be combined. In some embodiments, a wagering opportunity template may include not only a set of potential wagers, but also information on graphics, formatting, layout, menus, and other information that may be helpful in presenting a wagering opportunity to a user with user equipment 300 (FIG. 3).
  • FIG. 7 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Program region 702 may be used to display an athletic competition that is currently being broadcast to a user on user equipment 300 (FIG. 3). In the illustrative example depicted in FIG. 7, a baseball game may be shown in program region 702, and a media guidance application or other application may detect that an upcoming event may be of interest to the user and present wagering opportunities for that event to the user. For instance, it may be determined that an athlete on the user's fantasy baseball team (in this case, Derek Jeter), is expected to come up to bat relatively soon, and may present fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 to allow the user to place wagers on potential outcomes of the athlete's at-bat. In some embodiments, the player of interest need not belong to a fantasy sports team managed by the user, but may simply be an athlete that the user has indicated interest in.
  • Fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 may be presented to the user at any suitable time, for example, a pre-determined time period (e.g., ten minutes) before the event of interest (e.g., Derek Jeter's at-bat) is expected to occur, at a certain milestone like the beginning of an inning, as soon as the information on the expected upcoming event is available, or any other suitable time. In some embodiments, fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 may be manually invoked by user selection of suitable options, as explained in greater detail below. Although fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 is depicted as an overlay bar in FIG. 7, in some embodiments it may occupy different portions or all of display 700. Similarly, any of the wagering screens depicted in FIGS. 8-12 may occupy different portions or all of their respective displays.
  • In accordance with embodiments of the invention, fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 may retrieve a template containing potential wagers corresponding to the upcoming event from table 600 (FIG. 6) or a similar data structure. In this case, assuming that Derek Jeter is expected to come up to bat with no one on base, the application may retrieve a template containing potential wagers 608 (FIG. 6). Then, the potential wagers may be qualified before being presented to the user. For instance, statistical odds of each potential outcome occurring may be examined, and a potential wager may be presented to the user only if the odds of an examined outcome are greater than a certain threshold. In the example shown in FIG. 7, the application may determine that Derek Jeter's hit rate is approximately 0.282 (e.g., by retrieving such information from sports data source 424 (FIG. 4)), which is sufficiently high to present to the user a wager on whether Derek Jeter will obtain a hit on his next at-bat. Similar statistics may be obtained for other potential wagers, including wagers for a strike out, a walk, and various types of hits such as a single, double, triple, and home run.
  • Wagers that are determined to be suitable may be presented to the user in wager options 708. In this example, it may be determined that the statistical likelihood of Derek Jeter hitting a home run are so low (e.g., lower than a certain threshold, which may be fixed or vary by type of outcome being examined) that a wager on that potential outcome is not suitable for presentation to the user. Wager options 708 presented to the user may include indications of the likelihood of each event occurring in parentheses. In some embodiments, these likelihoods may be used to determine the expected payout should a user accept and win a particular wager. For example, if user accepts and wins the wager that Derek Jeter will get a hit, his expected payout will be 1/0.282 or approximately 3.55 times her wagered amount. It will be appreciated that information on expected awards may be indicated in other ways. For instance, instead of listing the likelihood of an outcome occurring, the expected payout multiplication factor or payout amount may be listed directly, or information indicative of payment may be omitted entirely to save space. In the example shown in FIG. 7, the user may select any of options 706 to place a wager on the corresponding event, so that she may bet not only on whether Derek Jeter will get a hit, but also on the type of hit he is expected to get. Of course, the likelihood of a particular type of hit occurring is lower than the likelihood of Derek Jeter getting a hit in general, so the potential payout of the former wager will be higher.
  • It will be appreciated that this example is merely illustrative, and extensions and variations are contemplated. For example, if Derek Jeter were expected to come up to bat with a player already on base, potential wagers 612 (FIG. 6) may be examined and presented to the user if they are deemed suitable. Potential wagers 612 (FIG. 6) may include potential wagers 608 (FIG. 6) along with additional wagers corresponding to the fact that a player is on base, such as a wager on whether a base will be stolen. In this case, again, a statistical likelihood of the base-stealing attempt may be examined to determine the suitability of the base-stealing wager. So, for example, if a player who is a relatively good hitter but a relatively slow runner, and consequently almost never attempts to steal a base, happens to be on first base, potential wagers corresponding to a base-stealing attempt may be disqualified from presentation. The likelihoods may also be tailored in any suitable way, such as by examining not only stolen-base statistics for a particular player, but stolen-base statistics for when that particular player is on a particular base. As another example, potential wagers may be tailored based on factors such as how many pitches a pitcher has thrown in the game currently being watched, or whether the pitcher played for a substantial amount of time in a previous game. Any other suitable statistics that may be provided by sports data source 424 may be used.
  • Once the user has chosen which wagering options 708 to accept (e.g., by checking the boxes corresponding to those options or by using any other suitable selection mechanism), the user may indicate the desired amount to be wagered using wagered-amount options 710. In some embodiments, wagered-amount options 710 may be pre-populated with default wager options previously indicated by the user (e.g., in fantasy sports configuration screen 500 (FIG. 5), but the user may be provided with an opportunity to change details of the wager. In this example, the user has selected to bet 100 points in her fantasy baseball league. It will be appreciated that wagers may be placed for other types of rewards, such as cash, prizes, prize points, or any other suitable rewards or combinations thereof. The user may accept their selected wagering opportunities by selecting “OK” option 712 (e.g., using a soft key “A” in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)) or decline the opportunity to place any wager at this time by selecting “No Thanks” option 714 (e.g., using a soft key “B” in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)). In some embodiments, wagering opportunities may only be accepted up to a certain time before the upcoming event to be wagered on actually occurs or is broadcast, to prevent wagering on an event whose outcome may already be publicly known or available.
  • FIG. 8 shows an illustrative fantasy sports options screen 803 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports options screen 803 may permit a user to engage in various types of transactions relating to fantasy sports, and may be displayed in response to any suitable action, such as selection of a dedicated button on user input interface 310 (FIG. 3) corresponding to fantasy sports, navigation through any suitable media guidance application menus or options, or any other suitable ways or combinations thereof. Fantasy sports options screen 803 may allow the user to, for example, create a new fantasy sports team using option 806, trade players on existing fantasy sports teams using option 808, examine current standings in fantasy sports leagues or contests using option 810, or engage in real-time wagering using option 812. The desired option may be selected by appropriately positioning highlight region 814 over the option and pressing an “OK,” “Enter,” or “Select” button in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3), or in any other suitable way.
  • In accordance with embodiments of the invention, selecting real-time wagering option 812 may allow the user to request a wagering opportunity related to the athletic competition being broadcast in program region 802. If such an opportunity exists, the user may then be presented with suitable wagering options in any suitable manner, such as using fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 or a similar screen. If no such opportunity exists, the user may be presented with a screen informing her of that, such as the one shown in FIG. 9. In some embodiments, if the user manually requests wagering opportunities (e.g., using real-time wagering option 812), the qualification process described above in connection with FIGS. 6 and 7 may be bypassed, such that potential wagers with very low-probability outcomes may still be presented to the user. In other embodiments, a search for wagering opportunities may be expanded beyond athletes and events that would normally be focused on (e.g., those corresponding to athletes on the user's fantasy sports team), in order to maximize the possibility that a user may be presented with a wagering opportunity when one is manually requested. If the user decides that she does not wish to select any of the options displayed in fantasy sports options screen 803, she may exit the screen by selecting “Back” option 816 (e.g., using a soft key “A” in user interface 310 (FIG. 3)).
  • FIG. 9 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering unavailability screen 903 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports wagering unavailability screen 903 may be displayed when a user attempts to initiate a real-time wager related to an athletic competition being broadcast in program region 902, but no real-time wagering opportunities are available. Real-time wagering opportunities may be unavailable for any suitable reason, such as temporary hardware or software failure, because the athletic competition of interest is currently on a break, because upcoming events of interest are still too far away or are unlikely to occur, because of unavailability of particular types of data from sports data source 424 (FIG. 4), because fantasy sports athletes being tracked by the user are not active in the athletic competition of interest, or for any other reason. The user may acknowledge the unavailability by selecting “OK” option 908 (e.g., using a soft key “A” in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)). In some embodiments, other options may be provided to the user, such as an option to enter fantasy sports options screen 803 (FIG. 8) to perform other transactions related to fantasy sports.
  • FIG. 10 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 may be presented at any suitable time, for example, after a user accepts a wagering opportunity presented to her in fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 (FIG. 7), in response to a selection of an appropriate menu option in a media guidance application, or at any other suitable times or combinations thereof. Fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 may allow the user to choose groups or individuals to invite to join a particular wager or series of wagers. It will be noted that other individuals may be given opportunities to engage in some or all of the same wagers as the user even without specific invitations using fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 or a similar interface. Thus, in some embodiments, fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 simply allows a user to send a specific wagering opportunity to an individual or group when that individual or group would not otherwise receive it (e.g., because they are not watching the same athletic competition at the same time, or because they have configured their own options to not present particular wagering opportunities). In some embodiments, an individual who is invited to participate in a wager by a user will be notified that they are being invited by the current user, in order to encourage them to participate in the wager. In some embodiments, expected payouts or losses may be affected by the participation of others in a wager (e.g., if a pari-mutuel approach to computing payouts is used).
  • Fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003 may include a message 1006 asking the user if she would like to invite friends to participate. The user may choose to not invite anyone by selecting “No” option 1008, or may choose to invite one or more individuals by selecting “Yes” option 1010. If “Yes” option 1010 is selected, the user may be provided with any suitable ways to select individuals to invite to participate in the wager. For instance, option 1012 may allow the user to search for a particular user or group (e.g., using a graphical keyboard that appears if option 1012 is selected, or by directly using keys that are included in user input interface 310 (FIG. 3)). As another example, option 1014 may allow a user to select friends from the user's buddy list, where the list may correspond to a fantasy sports league or contest, or may be imported from another application such as a social networking service, instant messaging platform, or e-mail address book. As yet another example, option 1016 may allow the user to select one or more of various pre-defined groups, such as the group of participants in a particular fantasy sports league or contest. The user may select the desired option using highlight bar 1018. It will be noted that the layout depicted in FIG. 10 is merely illustrative, and other options and interfaces may be provided.
  • FIG. 11 shows an illustrative fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1103 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1103 may be displayed after it has been determined that a user has won a wager that she had accepted (e.g., after an outcome of the event wagered on becomes known and updated in sports data source 424 (FIG. 4). The user may be presented with congratulations message 1106, informing the user that she has won. The actual award that is credited to the user may be indicated in award field 1108. In this illustrative example, the user had bet 100 fantasy sports points that Derek Jeter would get a hit in his next at-bat, an event that had a statistical likelihood of approximately 0.282. After it is determined that Derek Jeter did indeed get a hit, the payout may be calculated and displayed in field 1108.
  • Fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1103 may also display updated information corresponding to the user's account, reflecting the award just received. In this example, the user may be notified in field 1110 that she now has a certain number of fantasy sports points (e.g., 2355 in FIG. 5), resulting in a particular standing (e.g., a ranking of 12 among 527 participants) in her fantasy baseball league or contest. Other suitable information and options may be provided. The user may acknowledge the information conveyed by fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1103 by selecting “OK” button 1114 (e.g., by using a soft key “A” in user input device 310 (FIG. 3)).
  • FIG. 12 shows another illustrative fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1203 in accordance with embodiments of the invention. Fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1203 may be displayed after it has been determined that a user has lost a wager that she had accepted (e.g., after an outcome of the event wagered on becomes known and updated, such as in sports data source 424 (FIG. 4). The user may be presented with message 1206, informing the user that she has lost. The actual loss that has been deducted from the user may be indicated in loss field 1208. In this illustrative example, the user had bet 100 fantasy sports points that Derek Jeter would get a hit in his next at-bat. After it is determined that Derek Jeter did not get a hit, the loss may be recorded and displayed in field 1208.
  • Fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1203 may also display updated information corresponding to the user's account, reflecting the deduction of the recent loss. In this example, the user may be notified in field 1210 that she now has a certain number of fantasy sports points left (e.g., 1900 in FIG. 5), resulting in a particular standing (e.g., a ranking of 38 among 527 participants) in her fantasy baseball league or contest. Other suitable information and options may be provided. The user may acknowledge the information conveyed by fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1203 by selecting “OK” button 1214 (e.g., by using a soft key “A” in user input device 310 (FIG. 3)).
  • FIG. 13 shows an illustrative flow chart of a first part 1300A of a process for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition in accordance with embodiments of the invention. At step 1302, real-time automatic wagering may be enabled in any suitable way, such as using fantasy sports configuration screen 500 (FIG. 5) or a similar interface. In some embodiments, real-time automatic wagering may be enabled automatically by a system, e.g., when a user performs certain transactions with a fantasy sports league through an interactive media guidance application or an application or service that communicates with the guidance application, thereby indicating a potential interest in sports wagering.
  • At step 1304, a real-time status of an athletic competition may be monitored. The athletic competition may be broadcast to a user with user equipment 300 (FIG. 3). The monitoring may be performed using sports data source 424 (FIG. 4), which may provide substantially real-time status updates on events occurring in an athletic competition. The monitored status may indicate, for example, scores, player positions, plays executed, the outcomes of such plays, and any other suitable information or combinations thereof.
  • At step 1306, it may be determined whether there is an upcoming event of interest. In some embodiments, the event of interest may be an event of a particular type that is maintained in a data structure such as table 600 (FIG. 6). In some embodiments, an event of interest may correspond to a player that a user is tracking through a fantasy sports league or contest, or that the user has otherwise expressed an interest in. In other embodiments, the event of interest may not correspond to any particular player or players. If an event of interest is detected, the process may proceed to step 1308. If not, the process may loop back to step 1304 until such an event is detected.
  • At step 1308, a template corresponding to the type of the event of interest detected in step 1306 may be retrieved. The template may indicate a set of potential wagers for the event, such as the illustrative potential wagers depicted in FIG. 6. In some embodiments, the potential wagers may be organized in a hierarchical structure, may include sets of potential wagers corresponding to other types of events, or both. In some embodiments, detection of one specific event may trigger retrieval of multiple templates and thus multiple sets of potential wagers. In some embodiments, templates may include not just information on potential wagers, but also information on layouts and graphics that may be used to present potential wagers to the user.
  • At step 1310, it may be determined whether the probability of any particular outcome corresponding to each potential wager retrieved in step 1308 is greater than a certain threshold. For instance, if one potential wager relates to a base-stealing attempt in a baseball game, the probability that a particular player that is currently on base will try to steal a base may be compared to a particular numerical threshold. In some embodiments, the threshold may vary according to one or more factors, such as the player who would perform the play to be wagered on, the position of the player, overall information on the particular game being examined, or any other suitable factors or combinations thereof. The probability may be determined by retrieving and possibly processing data from sports data source 424 (FIG. 4) or any other suitable source. If the probability for an outcome associated with a particular wager does not exceed the threshold, the process may discard that potential wager without presenting it to the user and proceed back to step 1304. If, however, the outcome for the wager exceeds the threshold, the process may then proceed to link “A.”
  • FIG. 14 shows an illustrative flow chart of a second part 1300B of a process for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition in accordance with embodiments of the invention. At step 1312, at least one wagering opportunity may be presented to the user with data indicating possible rewards associated with each opportunity. The opportunity may be presented using any suitable interface, such as fantasy sports wagering opportunity screen 703 (FIG. 7). The data indicating possible rewards may be presented in any suitable format, such as directly listing a likelihood of the outcome to be wagered on, listing a reward multiplier that will be applied to a wagered amount if the player wins, listing the exact amount of a reward to be received if the user wins the wager, indicating a current estimate of the expected reward based on pari-mutuel information received from other participants, or any other suitable format or combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the data indicating possible rewards may be omitted from the display.
  • In step 1314, it may be determined whether the user accepts the wagering opportunity presented to her. For example, the user may accept a wagering opportunity by selecting the corresponding option 708 for the wager and selecting “OK” button 712 in sports wagering opportunity screen 703 (FIG. 7) or a similar display. If the user does not accept the wagering opportunity (e.g., she selects “No Thanks” option 714 (FIG. 7)), the process may proceed to link “B” and back to step 1304 (FIG. 13). If she does accept the wagering opportunity, the process may proceed to step 1316. At step 1316, the wagered amount may be received. The user may indicate the amount she wishes to wager and the type of item she wishes to wager (e.g., fantasy sports points, money, etc.) using any suitable interface, such as options 710 (FIG. 7).
  • At step 1318, the outcome of the event of interest, which the user engaged in a wager in, may be determined. The outcome may be retrieved from a substantially real-time status stored in sports data source 424 (FIG. 4) or any other suitable source. At step 1320, the result of the wager may be processed based on the outcome of the event of interest. For example, the user may be shown fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1103 or a similar screen if she wins the wager. Similarly, she may be shown fantasy sports wager outcome screen 1203 if she loses the wager. Additionally, the reward or loss resulting from the wager may be credited or debited, respectively, through any suitable techniques, such as by communicating with a fantasy sports service (whose account login information may be provided using fields 514 and 516 of fantasy sports configuration screen 500 (FIG. 5)), with sports data source 424 (FIG. 4), or other suitable providers, systems, or combinations thereof. Similarly, if the user wagered on money, the crediting or deduction of money may be performed through a credit card, a stand-alone account that the user has set aside for the purpose of fantasy sports wagering, or through any other suitable mechanisms.
  • It will be appreciated that the process depicted in FIGS. 13 and 14 is merely illustrative. In practice, steps may be added, deleted, modified, re-ordered, or combined without deviating from the spirit or scope of the invention. For instance, in some embodiments, the user may select one or more individuals or groups to engage in wagers with, using fantasy sports configuration screen 500 (FIG. 5), fantasy sports wagering participants screen 1003, or any other suitable interfaces. Additionally, in some embodiments, the user may reach step 1306 through a manual request for a wagering opportunity (e.g., using real-time wagering option 812 of fantasy sports options screen 803 (FIG. 8))
  • It is to be understood that while certain forms of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, it is not to be limited to the specific forms or arrangement of parts described and shown. Those skilled in the art will know or be able to ascertain using no more than routine experimentation, many equivalents to the embodiments and practices described herein. Accordingly, it will be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the embodiments disclosed herein.

Claims (21)

1. A method for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition that is being broadcast on user equipment to a user, the method comprising:
accessing a substantially real-time status of the athletic competition while it is being broadcast;
detecting an upcoming event of a pre-determined type in the athletic competition based on the accessed real-time status;
generating the wagering opportunity based on the type of the event, wherein the wagering opportunity relates to an outcome of the upcoming event; and
presenting the wagering opportunity to the user via the user equipment.
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
determining that the user participates in a fantasy sports league; and
determining that an athlete tracked by the user in the fantasy sports league is participating in the athletic competition.
3. The method of claim 2 further comprising presenting the generated opportunity to a second user via second user equipment, wherein:
the second user also participates in the fantasy sports league; and
an athlete tracked by the second user in the fantasy sports league is participating in the athletic competition.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein generating the wagering opportunity comprises:
retrieving a template corresponding to the type of the upcoming event; and
configuring the template according to parameters of the upcoming event.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein configuring the template comprises determining an expected reward if the user accepts and wins the wagering opportunity, wherein the expected reward is different from an expected loss if the user accepts and loses the wagering opportunity.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein determining the expected reward comprises:
determining, based on at least one statistic, a probability that an outcome of the event will occur; and
determining the expected reward based on the determined probability.
7. The method of claim 1 further comprising:
determining whether parameters of the upcoming event are suitable for wagering; and
generating the wagering opportunity only if it is determined that the parameters of the upcoming event are suitable for wagering.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the wagering opportunity is automatically presented to the user when the upcoming event of the pre-determined type is detected.
9. The method of claim 1 further comprising receiving a user input, wherein the wagering opportunity is presented to the user in response to receiving the user input.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein the athletic competition and the wagering opportunity are simultaneously displayed on the user equipment.
11. A system for presenting a wagering opportunity related to an athletic competition that is being broadcast on user equipment to a user, the system comprising user equipment configured to:
access a substantially real-time status of the athletic competition while it is being broadcast;
detect an upcoming event of a pre-determined type in the athletic competition based on the accessed real-time status;
generate the wagering opportunity based on the type of the event, wherein the wagering opportunity relates to an outcome of the upcoming event; and
present the wagering opportunity to the user via the user equipment.
12. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to:
determine that the user participates in a fantasy sports league; and
determine that an athlete tracked by the user in the fantasy sports league is participating in the athletic competition.
13. The system of claim 12 wherein:
the user equipment is further configured to present the generated opportunity to a second user via second user equipment;
the second user also participates in the fantasy sports league; and
an athlete tracked by the second user in the fantasy sports league is participating in the athletic competition.
14. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to:
retrieve a template corresponding to the type of the upcoming event; and
configure the template according to parameters of the upcoming event.
15. The system of claim 14 wherein:
the user equipment is further configured to determine an expected reward if the user accepts and wins the wagering opportunity; and
the expected reward is different from an expected loss if the user accepts and loses the wagering opportunity.
16. The system of claim 15 wherein the user equipment is further configured to:
determine, based on at least one statistic, a probability that an outcome of the event will occur; and
determine the expected reward based on the determined probability.
17. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to:
determine whether parameters of the upcoming event are suitable for wagering; and
generate the wagering opportunity only if it is determined that the parameters of the upcoming event are suitable for wagering.
18. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to automatically present the wagering opportunity to the user when the upcoming event of the pre-determined type is detected.
19. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to:
receive a user input; and
present the wagering opportunity to the user in response to receiving the user input.
20. The system of claim 11 wherein the user equipment is further configured to display the athletic competition and the wagering opportunity simultaneously.
21-30. (canceled)
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