RespondTV Purchases AccelerateTV

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Interactive television company AccelerateTV was purchased this week by RespondTV in a move that the company said will enable it to offer extensive t-commerce applications. Financial details were not made available by the privately held corporations.

"The majority of what we will do with their technology is sell things," said Heather Cabral, director of corporate communications at RespondTV, San Francisco.

Cabral said Accelerate is a good fit for the company for two main reasons: technology and standards.

RespondTV is offered to cable companies to provide their subscribers with an interactive and Web-on-TV experience. The company had primarily concentrated on back-end monitoring, tracking and easing fulfillment of TV orders.

Cabral said that while RespondTV has concentrated on enhancing TV programs and commercials, AccelerateTV has focused on "walled garden" applications. Simply put, RespondTV was working to allow interaction during programs and commercials while AccelerateTV was working on an internal channel on which cable operators could sell time.

The important aspect of these walled-garden experiences is that they are similar to the Internet and use a shopping cart and an electronic wallet that saves customers' credit card and shipping information.

A walled garden contains many "virtual channels" that allow people to use their remote control to click on "clothes," for example, and view an assortment of fashions, put them in their shopping cart, make a purchase through a saved credit card number and then change the channel and resume watching TV.

Adding this capability to its suite of services makes RespondTV more attractive to cable operators looking to earn revenue beyond subscriptions.

Like RespondTV, Accelerate built its software specific to the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum, which is a multi-industry alliance stretching across broadcast and cable networks and television delivery systems as well as electronics, Internet and PC companies.

Another important aspect of the deal is that RespondTV is getting 30 engineers and business people who know the I-TV business.

"It's so hard to find people [who] are qualified [and who] have experience in interactive television," said Michael Kokernak, industry pundit and CEO of interactive media-buying company BackChannel Media, Boston.

"The acquisition has a lot to do with bringing on additional people who are knowledgeable in interactive TV. By combining both companies ... they are stronger and they will create more competition for Wink and other interactive applications than if they go it alone. They are stronger as a team for venture capital."

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