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Video services

TVN Gets the Urge to Merge

12:05 PM -- TVN Entertainment Corp. , a VoD content aggregator and content management firm that has been rumored to be on the block for several years running, has finally found a suitor: Avail Media Inc. (See TVN, Avail Media Merge.)

The two closely held firms are calling this a merger that will produce a company capable of marketing an integrated content delivery system for both content owners and service providers, with an eye cast on a broader multi-platform strategy that has more than just the TV screen in mind. They aren't disclosing terms of the deal, but Multichannel News says TVN's owners, including majority stakeholder Morgan Stanley , are unloading the company for about $80 million.

The merger investment group includes Columbia Capital , Novak Biddle Venture Partners , Valhalla Partners , Pioneer Ventures, and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) . The NRTC, a group that represents about 1,500 rural utilities and telcos, calls itself a "major shareholder" in the combined company and will acquire a seat on the board.

TVN, which counts the Comcast Media Center (CMC) as a competitor in the MSO realm, gives Avail some added cable footing and complements its more traditional IPTV content distribution business. Listed TVN cable partners include Cox Communications Inc. , Charter Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), and Mediacom Communications Corp. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) also take some VoD fare from TVN, which uses satellite feeds to distribute content and a system called Adoniss to manage it all.

Avail has managed to carve out some small cable inroads. It announced its first cable deal last month with WRB Enterprises, a company that owns and operates systems in the Turks and Caicos Islands and in the Commonwealth of Dominica. Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) , a cable consortium that's touting a downloadable conditional access system, plans to get its digital content from Avail, as well. R.L. Drake LLC is now in charge of that offering, which is generally targeted to small and mid-sized MSOs. (See BBT Notches First Install and R.L. Drake CEO: We'll Be Agile .)

Looking ahead, TVN and Avail are developing a number of "expanded services," including video-over-broadband, targeted adds, and some interactive apps.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




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