GoldPocket Buys Mixed Signals Unit

Two players in the nascent interactive television space are pooling interests to enhance their iTV production offerings, with GoldPocket Interactive snapping up rival Mixed Signals’ Professional Services unit.

Through the arrangement, terms of which were not disclosed, AOL Time Warner-backed GoldPocket gains access to Mixed Signals’ iTV production group, which focuses on providing services for interactive TV enhancement and delivery to television producers, advertisers, networks and distributors.

Mixed Signals also brings to the table its sizable roster of partners, such as iTV middleware providers Liberate Technologies and OpenTV, set-top box manufacturers Sony, Microsoft, and iTV-friendly cable networks like Liberty Digital. It also has a deal with broadcast graphics giant Chyron.

Following the sale of its unit, Culver City, Calif.-based Mixed Signals will continue with its iTV networking products.

Los Angeles-based GoldPocket, for its part, provides software that enables television and commercial producers to design and deliver interactive TV content to set-top boxes or PCs. Additionally, the company’s EventMatrix technology allows for ITV viewers to interact with each another.

For instance, EventMatrix powered interactive portions of the game show “Greed,” which began airing last month on the Game Show Network. Interactive questions that allowed viewers to play against each other were available to PC users, or to AOL TV or Microsoft’s Ultimate TV and MSNTV set-top box subscribers.

The union of GoldPocket’s EventMatrix technology and the strong ties with the set-top box players enjoyed by the Mixed Signals unit creates an iTV production technology powerhouse, spokespeople say.

“The combined strength of our companies will benefit networks and sponsors by allowing them to increase the reach and depth of the entertainment experience for their viewers in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” said GoldPocket Interactive president and chief executive Scott Newnam.

Newnam added that such partnerships — and the content that would be created as a result — would encourage the spread of digital set-top boxes with interactive capabilities.

“With advertisers demanding a richer experience from their on-air buys, we have seen a substantial increase in the demand for interactive programming in the past few months,” he said. “This spring, more ITV inventory will be sold during television’s ‘upfronts’ than ever before, culminating in a massive launch of interactive programming this fall.”

The news comes amid concerns that the fledgling interactive TV space’s fortunes will be hampered by a host of factors including a fragmented market of solutions providers. (Indeed, competitive rivalry already has led to at least one lawsuit, with OpenTV slapping a patent suit on Liberate.)

Jupiter Media Metrix recently forecasted that iTV ad revenues wouldn’t see significant expansion for another 12 to 24 months.

“The growth of interactive television has until now been slowed by a fractured marketplace, filled with several small players and a lack of clear production and distribution standards,” said Mixed Signals president and chief executive officer Caroline Beck. “This is a crucial moment for the advancement of the interactive television industry in the United States.”

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