NBC Universal, Comcast back Zeebox

Duo add marketing muscle behind U.K. group's U.S. rollout

Comcast and NBC Universal have thrown their heft behind TV viewing app Zeebox, putting cash and marketing muscle behind the U.K. group’s U.S. rollout.

HBO and Cinemax are also onboard, the company said in a statement, and “further partners expected to be invited in due course.”

Zeebox is a universal, cross-channel TV viewing companion app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and the Web. It’s one of several similar services, but the first with such a deep-pocketed investor and backer in the U.S. media space.

“We’re excited to team with Zeebox on their U.S. launch,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. “As the Olympics demonstrated, the second-screen experience has become an increasingly important platform to engage audiences. We think the Zeebox technology presents tremendous opportunities for our viewers and our advertisers.”

Zeebox offers comprehensive TV listings and social media and personalized recommendations. Its cloud-based app recognizes what users are watching and provides “relevant content and experiences from across the Web, TV programmers, social networks and advertisers.” Viewers can engage with television personalities buy the products.

Both Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal are backing Zeebox with investments — amount undisclosed — and promotional support and are preparing to enhance hundreds of their top TV shows with the app, including “The Voice” and Notre Dame Football.

Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast Cable, said, “Zeebox is a really compelling second-screen companion viewing platform, and we’re excited to join such a strong group of industry partners in its launch.”

HBO will be the exclusive premiere network partner.

Zeebox was developed by former EMI exec Ernesto Schmitt and former BBC iPlayer chief technology officer Anthony Rose. It launched in the U.K. last year.