NetChannel lines up Web alliances

NetChannel, a Bay Area startup aiming to deliver personalized Internet services via standard TV monitors, has inked a number of strategic partnerships.

The company has developed an electronic programming guide with Thomson Consumer Electronics and GIST Communications, an Internet-based entertainment guide.

NetChannel also said it had struck deals to deliver Internet programming from cablers, including A&E, Court TV and the History Channel.

In coming weeks, NetChannel execs said, additional programming and commerce partners are slated to be announced.

For consumers, cost of the NetChannel subscription would be about $20 a month, an additional expenditure on top of a cable TV sub.

Marketing VP John Stuckey said the system tested well in focus groups. However, the company may face tough crowds once the hardware launches in the marketplace this fall: A report by industry analysis firm Dataquest found that 93% of households it surveyed were not interested in TV-based Internet access.

But Jack Clewis, NetChannel’s programming VP, emphasized that the company hopes to “hide the Internet for the consumer. Our goal is to deliver better TV.”

NetChannel execs take pains to distance their company from WebTV Networks, a Microsoft-acquired firm that enables Internet content to be delivered to a TV set using conventional phone lines.

“Web TV is not personalizing content the way we are,” Stuckey said. “We’re adding value to your TV, not trying to be another Internet service provider.”

Initial funding for NetChannel was provided by company founders David Atkinson, Philip Monego, Steve Rand and Hermann Hauser. The first venture equity round was furnished by AVI Capital in Los Altos and Technology Funding in San Mateo.

Last month NetChannel announced that it had acquired ViewCall America, developer of what it calls a “personal Internet TV channel.”

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