There have been numerous failed attempts to bring the Internet to television, and even the recent success of Apple comes with an asterisk. AppleTV, originally touted by Steve Jobs as “the missing piece” in Apple’s multimedia empire, took only two months of cool reception to become a “hobby” for Jobs and the company.
Building B, a new Silicon Valley (Belmont, Calif.) company is the latest to try to bring Internet to your TV, and has raised $17.5 million from Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital, Index Ventures and undisclosed private investors.
It’s with past woes in mind that Building B’s president Phil Wiser points out that his service “enables access to some content available on the internet…fully integrated with the traditional television content.”
Building B hasn’t launched its product yet, but says it is creating a video entertainment service that offers broadcast, cable and film programming alongside Internet content without the need of a computer. If Building B can really offer such an all-inclusive set-up box, it should overcome the large hurdle that has hindered Internet video from being adopted in the living room.
Building B has partnered with Claria for use of their Axon service to customize content. By examining user web-browsing activity with Axon, Building B will be able to provide personalized recommendations for the consumer as well as extremely targeted ads for advertisers. Unfortunately, the Axon service appears reminiscent of the tracking found in Google History – a service that created an immediate privacy uproar.
With few specifics available on the service’s content, Building B’s video-on-demand will presumably face the same uphill battle to accumulate programming as Joost – a VOD service made for the Internet. Unlike Joost, Building B has brought aboard executives from numerous broadcasting backgrounds to provide in-roads for the task. Andy Lack, Sony BMG Music Entertainment chairman, is on the board.
Content withstanding, how Building B will distinguish itself from the entrenchment of existing cable and satellite VOD services has yet to be seen.