Home Shopping Company, JML, Launches Interactive TV App Based on Miniweb's TV Keys

UK-based Miniweb says that its TV Keys service is now powering an interactive TV application for home shopping programmer, JML, on the Sky satellite-TV platform (note: Miniweb, which was founded by former BSkyB interactive TV executive, Ian Valentine, recently raised $32 million in new funding and appointed a new CEO--see [itvt] Issue 8.06 Part 1). The application--which can be accessed from five JML channels (JML, JML Home & DIY, JML Choice, JML Lifestyle and JML Cookshop) by using the remote control to punch in a code--allows viewers to use their remotes to browse inventory and make purchases. Via a functionality that Miniweb calls "Key & See," the app lets viewers continue to watch the channel they launched it from while they use it.

JML, which is the first broadcaster to deploy a TV Keys-based application, is promoting the app through on-air spots and an email campaign. "We always champion innovation--through our products and the way we interact with our audience," JML managing director, Ken Daly, said in a prepared statement. "We're impressed with Miniweb's TV Keys service and want to lead the way in engaging and providing viewers with an even richer television experience."

Miniweb bills the TV Keys service as enabling broadcasters and advertisers to repurpose Internet content as interactive enhancements to their shows or commercials, thus providing an inexpensive way to launch interactive TV services that offer Internet-style measurability. It is based on the BSkyB-developed WTVML standard, which is supported by around 9 million set-top boxes, and which was originally used to power the operator's Skynet service. The phrase, "TV Keys," refers to numeric codes that Miniweb sells to its clients and that can spell out a brand name or simply a word describing the kinds of products and services sold by a company (for example, the TV Key, "46553297," would spell out "HOLIDAY" on the remote control keypad): when a TV Key appears on the screen, viewers can punch it in via their remotes in order to trigger the interactive enhancements that the service enables. Like a URL, TV Keys allow viewers to access those enhancements at any time, and can therefore be used in print and other non-TV advertising, as well as in timeshifted/recorded video, in order to direct consumers to an advertiser's interactive services. "Previously existing interactive television services have been expensive to launch and maintain, and as a result have now become redundant with a number of broadcasters," Miniweb marketing director, Andrew Noble, said in a prepared statement. "TV Keys offers a much more cost-effective method of engaging viewers and generating additional revenue through monetizing casual television viewing."