ActiveVideo goes after Europe’s interactive TV market

Interactive television provider ActiveVideo Networks today announced plans to acquire Netherlands-based Avinity Systems, which also provides cloud-based interactive TV and applications. By acquiring the complementary company, Silicon Valley-based ActiveVideo Networks is looking to expand its presence in the still nascent market for interactive TV in Europe.

ActiveVideo offers interactive TV services with a network-based approach to distributing and aggregating content. Like its North American competitors Clearleap, Zillion TV and Sezmi, ActiveVideo aims to supplement service provider’s existing TV offers with linear and video on-demand interactive content. It builds its user experience with targeted advertising, commerce and potentially additional new services from third-party developers based on an open platform. The company targets connected devices with a new UI built on interactivity.

The acquisition was announced at the ANGA Cable Trade Fair taking place this week in Germany. Avinity will also give the company access to its content provider, middleware and infrastructure partners. ActiveVideo chairman Gary Lauder said he expects all employees to be retained as the company continues its global expansion, but the company will close its UK office to relocate its European business to Avinity’s headquarters in the Netherlands. Following the acquisition, he said the two companies will have deployed interactive services to more than 5 million homes worldwide by the end of the year.

The interactive TV market is still in its early stages in the United States as well. Both cable and IPTV operators are beginning to experiment with widgets, new interfaces for interactivity, incorporating over-the-top content and adding elements of social networking. While interactive technology is emerging as a differentiator for pay TV, new services have struggled to find the right business model and technology challenges to make it worthwhile for IPTV providers and even cablecos looking to compete.

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