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Comcast, NBCUniversal Take Stake in U.K. TV Companion App Maker Zeebox

On visits from his corporate superiors at Comcast
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The company has struck its first U.S. agreements with the two companies and Time Warner's HBO.

LONDON - Zeebox, a British maker of TV companion apps, has struck its first U.S. deals with Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO and its Cinemax service, which will see the firm's apps used across more than 30 networks.

Comcast and its NBCUniversal entertainment arm are also taking a stake of undisclosed size in Zeebox. At the start of the year, U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB bought a 10 percent stake in it.

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In a statement, Zeebox called the U.S. agreement "a first-of-its-kind endorsement of a universal, cross-channel TV viewing companion app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and the Web."

Further partners are expected to be considered in the future.

Zeebox is the brainchild of former EMI executive Ernesto Schmitt and former BBC tech guru Anthony Rose, who was chief technology officer of the public broadcaster's iPlayer.

Zeebox’s cloud-based app recognizes what users are watching on TV and serves up relevant content and experiences from  the Internet, TV programmers, social networks and advertisers. Among other things, users can look through additional information about the shows they watch or buy select products they see on TV.

Said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal: "As the Olympics demonstrated, the second screen experience has become an increasingly important platform to engage audiences. We think the Zeebox technology presents tremendous opportunities for our viewers and our advertisers."

"As strategic launch partners, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal are backing Zeebox with investments and promotional support, and are preparing to enhance hundreds of their top TV shows on Zeebox, including the likes of The Voice and Notre Dame Football," the companies said.

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“Our audiences have demonstrated a clear commitment to connecting with HBO and Cinemax programming on a deeper level,” said HBO co-president Eric Kessler. “Zeebox offers a unique, comprehensive platform that drives discovery, engagement and conversation around our most beloved programs and stars.”

As "the exclusive premiere network partner" of the company in the U.S., HBO will bring such shows as Boardwalk Empire and True Blood to the social platform.

Said Schmitt, CEO and co-founder of Zeebox: “As consumers continue to flock to social media and the web to experience a program beyond what is on the screen, Zeebox gives content owners and programmers a direct line of communication, feedback and engagement that has never before been possible.”