Invision.TV Takes On Web TV

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Invision.TV, a startup founded in late 2007 by former Time Warner Cable executive Derrick Frost, is trying to graft a television-surfing experience onto the Web.

Invision (a portmanteau of “Internet” and “television”) this week will debut its “Web-based video-discovery platform,” which Frost described as letting users browse a cable-style interactive program guide that pulls in content from all over the Internet.

“Given our cable background, we approached it from a TV perspective,” said Frost, who is Invision’s CEO.

The seven-employee Bethesda, Md.-based company is funded by Frost—formerly senior vice president of operations and engineering for Time Warner Cable’s broadband division—and Jeff King, who was president of the cable operator’s Road Runner high-speed Internet service.

Invision’s IPG presents a mosaic of thumbnail images of videos, culled from Hulu, YouTube, ESPN.com, HGTV.com and a host of other sites, organized into channels. Users can also search on keywords, as well as comment on, rate and share videos. The application runs on Amazon.com’s Web Services, which provides Internet bandwidth and storage to sites in an on-demand basis.

For now, Invision—in classic Internet-startup fashion—doesn’t have any revenue coming in.

The company hopes to land advertising dollars, but hasn’t approached any prospective sponsors yet. Frost’s other idea is to license the “Web IPG” to content owners, cable operators or other Internet service providers.

With dozens of video portals—including Hulu, Comcast’s Fancast, Veoh and AOL Video--set up to do exactly what Frost and his team are trying to do, what sets Invision apart?

Frost contends that the idea is to pull in all Internet video (unlike sites like Hulu, which is focused on professionally produced material) and let users “discover” it in a TV-like way (unlike other video search engines).

“Our consumer experience is designed to take the known behaviors that work from TV, and extend and enhance them on the Internet,” he said.

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