ZillionTV To Offer Ad-Supported Internet TV Service

The startup will offer streaming movies and TV shows from Disney, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros. through its set-top box.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

March 5, 2009

2 Min Read

ZillionTV, a startup backed by major TV networks and Hollywood studios, has unveiled an ad-supported Internet TV service that would stream movies and TV shows with commercials that the viewer would not be able to skip or fast-forward through.

The service, which is being tested in several markets in the United States, would be delivered through a set-top box that costs less than $100. The device, which includes a motion-sensing remote control, has no hard drive and only streams content.

Studios that have agreed to make content available through ZillionTV's ZBar box include Disney, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros., which are all stakeholders in the company. ZillionTV plans to offer a library of 15,000 movies and TV shows by the end of 2009. The content will be available at no charge with ads, rented, or bought to own. Which options are available will depend on the content provider.

Subscribers choosing the ad option will be able to pick the category of advertising they want to see, making it more likely they'll see something they may want to buy. The service includes a buy option to make purchases through Visa, which is also a shareholder.

ZillionTV also is offering a reward program that lets subscribers earn points for the commercials they watch. The company's business model includes revenue sharing with content providers, advertisers, and Internet service providers.

"ZillionTV is building a new television ecosystem grounded in partnerships spanning from powerhouse TV networks and Hollywood studios, to Visa and major advertisers," Mitchell Berman, chief executive of ZillionTV, said in a statement released Wednesday.

ZillionTV is conducting trials of the service in multiple markets nationwide. The company plans a market-to-market rollout throughout the year.

While its ad-supported option is different, ZillionTV is only the latest company to offer streaming online video through a dedicated set-top box. Amazon.com and Netflix are offering rentals and buy-to-own movies and TV shows through a dedicated Roku set-top box, and Blockbuster has a similar arrangement with 2Wire. Apple sells the Apple TV device for connecting a home television to the Apple iTunes store.

While streaming and renting movies over the Web is small in terms of revenue when compared with DVD rentals, analysts believe that consumers eventually will turn to the Web for movies much as they have for music.

Each year, InformationWeek honors the nation's 500 most innovative users of business technology. Companies with $250 million or more in revenue are invited to apply for the 2009 InformationWeek 500.

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