Sky Zeebox deal to turn iPhones and iPads into TV remotes

9 Jan 2012

Sky’s investment in ‘second screen’ consumer service Zeebox will not only allow Sky customers to access their Sky+ box while on the move, but they can also use their iPhone or iPad as a remote control for their Sky box.

The Zeebox service – currently available on iPhone, iPad and the web – serves up social media feeds and conversations via Twitter and Facebook, as well as additional information on the topics, people and products featured within specific programmes.

Consumers use these ‘zeetags’ to search the web for more information, read up on characters or actors, purchase music, buy products featured on-screen – whether during programmes or ad breaks, or simply share their views with friends and followers on social media.

As part of this multi-million pound strategic partnership, Sky has become an investor in zeebox and has taken a 10pc equity stake, providing funding to support the company’s future product roadmap and global rollout plans.

“Sky took an early position of leadership with companion devices, having recognised the demand from our customers to use second screens to discover, enjoy and interact with their favourite content,” explained Emma Lloyd, Sky’s director of Emerging Products.

“The integration of Zeebox’s innovative technology will enable us to make the companion device experience even richer and more engaging. We know that millions of our customers have smartphones and tablets and regularly use them to engage with Sky on mobile devices, so it’s a natural next step for us.”

The social TV future

Led by Ernesto Schmitt, a former EMI board director, and Anthony Rose, who developed and launched the BBC iPlayer, Zeebox has enjoyed considerable success since the public launch of its app in late October 2011.

Sky Media will become the exclusive advertising sales agent for Zeebox’s synchronised advertising inventory.

Zeebox will remain an independent company continuing to operate its own Zeebox branded social TV platform in the UK and elsewhere.

Ernesto Schmitt, zeebox’s co-founder and CEO, adds: “Sky has a strong track record of innovation, and we are delighted to partner with them to deliver zeebox’s social TV vision to millions of Sky homes. Thanks to Sky’s backing we now also have the resources and expertise to set our sights firmly on international expansion alongside further innovation here in the UK and Ireland.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years