BSkyB iTV Spin-Off Miniweb Gets Big $32 Million Funding

imageMiniweb, a British interactive TV platform spun out of BSkyB (NYSE: BSY), has announced a massive $32 million (£18.35 million) venture round from US investors to take its product offerings international. Funding comes from Meritage Funds in Denver, Colorado and DeGeorge Holdings III, Nevada. The announcement was made at the IBC event; it’s not clear what kind of stake Miniweb had to give away for this.

Middlesex-based Miniweb targets iTV advertisers who want to go beyond the walled garden offered by digital satellite’s red button, instead offering them TV Sites, more internet-like websites built using WTVHTML, on broadband-capable set-top boxes. It’s a variant of HTML and so, the theory goes, wraps the cost of developing an iTV presence in to existing web production budgets.

The outfit was formed in 2006, when former BSkyB technical alliances director Ian Valentine left the broadcaster’s interactive unit and bought its SkyNet and SkyKeys services. Rebadged TV Key and Key-And-See, these other two Miniweb services let advertisers buy branded alphanumeric short codes that, when keyed in to a remote control, link the set-top box to a TV Site (ie. the TV Key for “ROBERT” is 762378 and would cost £15,000 a year to rent, if anyone’s feeling generous). The service is also offered to programme makers to offer interactive web services without forcing viewers to go fetch their laptops.

The service launched on BSkyB itself in April and Valentine handed the CEO role to former CompuServe and HP exec Andrew Carver in August. Carver: “This funding will enable us to invest in the additional resources we need to deliver our interactive broadcast and broadband TV vision to our customers and partners worldwide.