IQ News: ACTV to Expand With CatchTV Acquisition

New York-based ACTV today will announce the acquisition of CatchTV, the Burlingame, Calif.-based creators of a patented digital “bookmarking” system that enables users to save the addresses of Web pages related to TV programming or advertising, and then view the pages before, during and after the TV program has aired.
CatchTV’s suite of technologies will be incorporated into ACTV’s TV-Web convergence software plug-in product “HyperTV.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not released. CatchTV will cease its operations in California.
According to William C. Samuels, chairman and CEO of ACTV, the acquisition of CatchTV will facilitate the creation of compelling content for consumers and offer advertisers more potent ways to target and deliver messages.
HyperTV, ACTV’s “two-box” solution to enhanced TV programming–meaning users must view their regular TVs while they are online on their PCs–synchronizes the delivery of content on the Web with TV programming. The first programming using the plug-in will begin later this year in limited markets and will be more widely available in Q1 2000.
Earlier this month, ACTV announced an agreement with New Line Television to enhance the pay-per-view airings of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me using the HyperTV plug-in technology. The enhancements will include added content and information online, plus e-commerce placement. The broadcast of the enhanced Austin Powers will run Jan. 1 through Feb. 29.
Samuels admitted that so-called interactive TV services–essentially the Net in your TV–may not be ready for prime time because of the limited availability of consumer set-top boxes. But ACTV is able to deliver content that marries the Web with existing TV programming, he said.
Craig Ullman, in-ventor of HyperTV and keeper of the magic at ACTV, said delivering content on the Web that complements TV programming is something that consumers want–especially younger audiences who like to multitask while viewing entertainment. “I think the operating system in people’s heads has changed,” said Ullman. “Multitasking in many ways is a generational shift that has already occurred.”
In addition to New Line Television, ACTV has inked deals with The Box Music Network (a part of MTV Network’s Interactive Division) and Showtime Networks, both part of Viacom, New York.