ICTV gets $87 mil in funding

Software to run directly on networks' gear

Interactive TV services provider ICTV said Wednesday it has secured $87 million in funding from several major cable industry heavyweights, including John Malone’s Liberty Digital and Adelphia and Shaw Communications, which lead the round.

Other investors taking an equity stake in the Silicon Valley-based company include Motorola, TV Guide, OpenTV and ACTV. Earlier investors Cox Communications and Lauder Partners have increased their stake.

Individual corporate sums were not disclosed but funding should help hasten the rollout of Weblike services to television sets across the country faster than previously anticipated.

Uses same gear

Where most services require TV viewers to buy an upgraded and more expensive cable set-top box to benefit from new interactive TV offerings such as e-mail, chats or e-commerce, ICTV makes software designed to run directly on a network’s gear from which a TV signal originates.

ICTV will only provide the platform and technology to offer interactive content. Cable operators will still negotiate directly with content and application providers.

ICTV’s approach enables cable operators to offer new Weblike services to millions of existing set-top boxes across the country rather than waiting to roll out new offerings until after new boxes are installed in homes.

The sudden interest in ICTV comes as several major tech ventures are climbing into the interactive TV ring, including this week’s high-profile bow of AOL TV.

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