Next-generation interactive game capabilities promise to put viewers in the middle of the action — from NASCAR races to bingo and beyond

You’re sitting on your couch, clutching your cell phone and ready to pounce. No, it’s not past midnight, and you’re not waiting for the kids to come home. You’re simply watching an interactive-TV show called Video iQ.

Following a music video, on-screen clues come up. You see pictures of a truck, a blond-haired girl, a hand pricking a balloon, and a fruit tart. Letters from the band’s lyrics and snapshots from the video form “Semiretired blond pop tart.” You punch the answer — Britney Spears — into your phone and send it as a text message to the show.

Right! You just earned points and increased your chances of winning prizes, according to the 24-hour music channel Fuse, which has been running Video iQ twice a day since November. And some of the goodies are quite valuable: Just a couple of weeks ago, a participant won a $7,000 TV set.

The program, shown nationwide through the likes of Cablevision (CVC ) and Comcast (CMCSA ), is among a handful of interactive-TV games available today. Indeed, Video iQ may represent the advance guard of a wave of interactive-TV programs aimed at viewers drawn to the allure of video games and online

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