Canoe Signs 4 Major Media Players

Verklin Canoe Ventures, which has been developing a platform to allow cable networks to run interactive ads nationally, said four media companies have agreed to use the technology.

Networks owned by Comcast, Discovery, NBC Universal and Rainbow have inked deals with Canoe, where they can sync up with the system and approach advertisers about airing the iTV ads.

Two of Canoe's owners, Comcast and Cablevision, may have nudged networks they own to sign on.

Comcast owns E! and Versus, while Cablevision has Rainbow, with AMC and WE. Also, NBCU is about to be acquired by Comcast, so its participation may not be a surprise.

Comcast COO Steve Burke has been bullish about the revenue opportunities that Canoe can bring its owners. In addition to Comcast and Cablevision, those include Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter and Bright House -- the six largest cable distributors.



Canoe says the networks pay it for licensing rights to the request-for-information services. Such RFI ads can show a person seeking more details about a product or request a coupon or sample through the mail. An overlay appears on screen, while an ad runs with a prompt for viewers to click their remote controls.

In theory, advertisers would pay a premium for RFI spots, since data on how many people respond to a prompt would be readily available. The spots could also help generate sales leads, particularly if a mailing is requested.

Canoe has apparently stitched together a footprint of homes, where the iTV ads can appear. But it declined to say how many homes would be available when its platform debuts by July 1 -- and whether ads can reach homes served by all cable companies at first.

Ultimately, it is aiming to stream spots into millions of homes served by all six.

Canoe CEO David Verklin has suggested that advanced advertising can bring some of the advantages of the digital sphere to TV. He said in a statement Monday the aim is to "turn television into the next great interconnected digital platform."

The company said it plans to use its iTV footprint to debut other advanced advertising options. The Canoe system is propelled by EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) that each cable operator can deploy in their set-top-boxes, allowing the same ads to be delivered at the same time.

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