B3TV Delivers Free Pizza With Interactive TV Technology 08/03/99 >BY Laura Randall
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 1999 AUG 3 (NB) — Internet start-up B3TV has kicked off its campaign to show it can effectively link e-commerce with interactive television with a plan to deliver free pizza to WebTV users during a “Star Trek” marathon later this month.
The one-year-old company has been at work on technology that works with set-top boxes to let TV viewers buy products and request information without leaving their sofas. Monday marked the technology’s public “coming out” at Red Herring’s “Herring on Hollywood” conference. The B3TV booth generated solid buzz and a constant stream of visitors during the first day of the two-day event.
In the pizza offer, a WebTV subscriber who is watching the “Star Trek:The Next Generation” marathon on San Francisco’s KBHK-TV on August 21 and August 22 will be able to point and click on Domino’s Pizza ads airing during the TV shows. They will then be prompted for their address and topping preferences, and a delivery order will be placed at the Domino’s Pizza outlet closest to them.
San Francisco-based B3TV is hoping advertisers and TV stations will enlist them to set up e-commerce infrastructures as the demand for set-top boxes grows. It is also attempting to attract advertisers with the promise that they can micro- target their ads for different audience types and receive immediate feedback on the effectiveness of the ads.
B3TV’s competitors in the interactive TV arena include OpenTV, Wink Communications, and ACTV. But Hardie Tankersley, B3TV’s director of product development, said his company’s model stands out from the rest for its click-through revenue plan and technology designed to handle heavy usage without crashing.
“We’ve done a lot of work to make this smart. We anticipate what the viewers want to do and we take them there,” Tankersley told Newsbytes.
The technology works with any Internet standards-based set-top box. Currently, B3TV is used on Microsoft-owned WebTV and EchoStar’s Dish Player.
B3TV plans to make its money by taking a cut of each purchase made via its technology. For advertising models that don’t include e-commerce transactions, it plans to charge a flat fee for each transaction, Tankersley said.
The San Francisco-based company is in the process of developing an interactive TV infrastructure for Bloomberg Television, Tankersley said. The business news network already displays constantly updated stock and financial data on its stream, but with B3TV technology, a viewer will be able to fill in the ticker symbol of the stock he wants to check and it will appear on the screen.
B3TV has also snared about $6 million in financing so far from firms like Integrity Partners and Sequoia Partners. Its chief executive, David Kaiser, is a former America Online executive who worked most recently on the development of AOL TV.
The company acknowledges that past attempts to link e-commerce and TV have failed considerably, including an effort by Time Warner’s Full Service Network a few years ago. But the infrastructure is now in place to support such technology and it no longer requires 20 engineers to create an online store, Tankersley points out.
US households with digital cable access are expected to grow from about 400,000 in 1999 to 19.1 million in 2005, according to data compiled by Forrester Research.
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com
(19990803/Press Contact: Susie Marino, Marino & Associates, 415-547-7771/WIRES TELECOM, ONLINE, BUSINESS/)
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