High Gear: NBCU Invests In driverTV

NBC Universal is expanding its Web and broadcast presence with a new acquisition--a 35% stake in driverTV, which produces auto-related video content for car buyers. The two will partner to create video content on the Web as well as long- and short-form TV programming.

NBCU is paying about $6 million for a 35% stake in DriverTV, which has about $8 million in annual revenue, according to a source quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

driverTV is available as a branded VOD channel in almost 30 million cable homes and 500,000 hotel rooms in 47 of the top 50 markets. It has distribution agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Insight and The Hotel Networks. At launch, its distribution partners will also include MySpace and NBC.com.

The investment reflects an ongoing car-buying trend. Per eMarketer, 63% of adults used the Internet to research an automobile purchase or lease decision. The online auto market also includes Edmunds.com, Time Warner's AOL Auto and Autotrader.com.



"Through the additional distribution channels we've announced today, NBCU and driverTV will allow carmakers to interact with even more consumers at the point when they want to buy," said George Kliavkoff, Chief Digital Officer, NBC Universal.

Founded in 2005, driverTV has an HD video catalog of "virtual showroom experiences"--three-minute videos that provide a complete 360º interior and exterior view of a specific make and model. The company counts most U.S. automotive manufacturers as clients.

"NBC Universal shares our vision for building a powerful new automotive information platform," said Jan Renner, CEO and founder of driverTV. "This partnership provides enormous expertise and resources to the table."

@radical.media, which initially developed, produced and distributed driverTV, will retain a significant interest in the company.

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