Internet TV Venture Attracts Investments Worth $87 Million
Joining early investors Cox Cable and Lauder Partners are ACTV, Adelphia, Liberty Digital, Motorola, OpenTV, TV Guide, and Canadian enterprise Shaw Communications. "The investment marks a strong commitment to broadband interactive TV as a major growth sector in the US economy and drives ICTV to the foreground among competitors seeking to provide broadband infrastructure to the cable industry," stated an ICTV press release.
What's so hot about the company? "ICTV has migrated their business model to one that can work on the digital platform," explained Lee Masters, CEO of Liberty Digital. "The ICTV system can deliver a compelling array of new interactive services to virtually all . . . digital households," said Jim Brown, CFO of Adelphia Communications Corporation. "ICTV's centralized approach offers an excellent combination of advanced content delivery power, limited capital outlays, and a low-cost approach to technology migration."
As envisioned by ICTV, the tools of the interactive future include a digital cable plant, video-on-demand systems, enhanced TV software, and TV-based browsers. "ICTV is focused on providing just this last element, the high-speed TV browser," the press release emphasized. "Whereas competing approaches attempt to run the browser in a 'thick' cable set-top (those with fast processors, more memory, and built-in cable modems), ICTV has developed a system that allows the browsing experience to be delivered from the headend to any set-top."
"ICTV's solution is ideally suited to the 2000-class set-top terminal, which has sufficient processing power to support enhanced TV," the press release continued, explaining that the elegance of ICTV's technology will enhance the overall market opportunity for its ITV platform. ICTV wants to "enable rapid proliferation of compelling consumer products, such as TV Guide's electronic program guide and ACTV's HyperTV Enhanced Television solution." ICTV will remain "transparent" to consumers, according to company officials, by not engaging in "any sort of brokering or 'middleman' activity. Cable operators negotiate directly with content and application providers."
Solutions provided by ICTV are expected to let the cable industry compete more effectively with Direct Broadcast Satellite services, said ICTV CEO Robert B. Clasen. "ICTV's client-server approach is optimal for cable operators to deliver compelling, differentiated services while at the same time managing their technology costs for the short and long term. We're enthusiastic concerning these relationships." Apparently, so are investors.