Pocketing an ITV Deal

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Tandberg Television has thrust itself into the interactive-TV software arena, agreeing to buy GoldPocket Interactive for $78.5 million.

With this acquisition, Tandberg — a longtime maker of broadcast gear for the European TV market, which recently purchased on-demand software provider N2 Broadband — will add an ITV connection to customers including Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Inc., broadcasters Fox and NBC and Fox’s parent, News Corp.

ENHANCING ON DEMAND

GoldPocket’s software is used by dozens of programmers to create, manage and deliver interactive media and enhanced television applications. N2 has begun targeting programmers with its on-demand advertising software, but GPI’s enhanced-TV software will give Tandberg instant access to dozens of content providers.

For GoldPocket, the deal provides access to Tandberg’s worldwide customers, including broadcasters who are delving into interactivity. The price, about six times GoldPocket’s annual cash flow, was considered reasonable.

Tandberg president Reggie Bradford acknowledged that his company is reinventing itself through these software acquisitions.

“It’s really a move towards the digital-media infrastructure and different platforms, and creating a bigger value for our customers,” he said.

Said GoldPocket president Scott Newnam: “They key for us was finding the right partner to take TV to the next level. We’ve pioneered the interactive space. When you think about on-demand and combining it with ITV, it starts to get really interesting.”

Newnam said GPI was also drawn to Tandberg because of its culture. “They have high-end products, and know how to deliver it and make it work,” he said.

Officials at two other interactive-software firms said that Comcast Corp. was thought to be interested in buying GoldPocket. In an e-mail exchange, Newnam said: “In terms of players, as you can imagine, we have had substantial interest over the past few years. Since we are profitable and growing, there was no pressure to do anything.

“In the end, we believed this was a great product and cultural fit, and thus here we are today.”

INTERNATIONAL ASPIRATIONS

“We have pushed the bleeding edge of interactivity in North America,” Newnam said. “Our job was to show it could be a success, and we did that. We have been looking at international markets and we were going to go international next year.”

Instead of building its own sales force, GoldPocket can piggyback on Tandberg’s relationships in 70 countries.

A year from now, Bradford hopes to have more distribution for N2 and GoldPocket products, including interactive advertising applications.

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