NetPlay Embarks On Terrestrial Interactive Gaming With Five

Interactive TV gaming firm NetPlay TV has signed a deal to provide services to Five, its first UK free-to-air channel partner, and is repeating its tactic of giving away equity options in the bargain. Five is getting an option on a five percent stake in NetPlay – worth £2.8 million at today’s value.

The agreement lasts five years beginning September 17 and will see Five broadcast NetPlay’s show on its main channel on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, in a 12am-4am slot that was set aside for “teleshopping” services.

NetPlay already issued new equity equivalent to 30 percent of its value in July, when it went to the market seeking £12.8 million. It also Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) an option to take a 9.9 percent stake as part of a deal that saw it power VMtv’s Challenge Jackpot strand. NetPlay already secured STV’s signature for an version of, which began last week.

After the premium call-in scandals which plagued UK TV through 2007 and which knocked many TV-phone interaction vendors, NetPlay’s future looks bright, though the numbers are taking a short-term hit. It’s moving its business off-shore to save £120,000 a month, though the search for UK terrestrial contracts has delayed this from April to November (£960,000?), and it’s partnered with William Hill Online JV partner Playtech to improve its online backend for growth. NetPlay is now out of the premium call-in business.