Jeff Weber on Zone·tv’s Engagement Experiences


Jeff Weber, CEO of Zone·tv, tells World Screen Newsflash about opportunities around interactive engagement for distributors and content owners.

Zone·tv has been aiming to redefine entertainment by delivering rich, curated video and one-of-a-kind interactive experiences. Founded more than 20 years ago by Doug Edwards—who works shoulder to shoulder with Weber—it was launched as an OTT streaming company “that has a very good understanding of and knows how to work with the traditional cable satellite operators,” Weber says.

“Our history is really about bringing unique experiences. When I became aware of the company, I was running product at AT&T U-verse, and we had an agreement with the company to bring what we now call Holiday Countdown, an app, if you will, to traditional TV and in this case, U-verse.

“In the early days, apps on TV were not a thing,” Weber continues. “So it was kind of a breakthrough from a mix of technology and media. It was called Santa Tracker at the time and now called Holiday Countdown—a really big success, millions of viewers, multiple families and individuals coming back two or three or four times to experience this interactive app on their set-top box.”

From there, Zone·tv expanded out to other companies and has grown that part of the business. “We took that notion of an interactive experience and broadened it out,” Weber explains. “We created a framework for those experiences. Subsequently, we’ve gone from holiday to Halloween, but we’ve also done the launch of the final season of Game of Thrones and created an interactive experience for that and the launch of Space Jam: A New Legacy with an experience for that. And we’ve done it with Sesame Street and Discovery.”

Zone·tv now has this innovative capability, borne out of a simple idea from that holiday experience: the Ingage product line, which is interactive engagement. “These experiences will drive 100 million minutes to 200 million minutes of use over a six- or eight-week time period, driving really deep engagement,” Weber says. “People will come back multiple times. This isn’t a 30-second ad. That merchandising and promotion engine, whether it’s getting you engaged in Holiday Countdown or promoting and merchandising the final season for a network or a movie, that’s what the Ingage experience is and that product line.”

Zone·tv is keen to work with distributors and content owners. “The simple message is: If you have great content—and that can be a show, part of a series, a movie—we can create an experience that draws viewers in and gives them that deep experience to understand your content, do a little deeper character [exploration],” Weber says. “So, in Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon, we’ll do trivia on the characters or past seasons, depending upon what the particular content is or a little bit of education on here’s what this character is, all under the umbrella of a promotion and merchandising engine to drive interest in your content.”

There’s also e-commerce potential, Weber adds. “Whether it’s a toy tied to a character buy, a ticket for a movie, we have e-commerce capability that we can wrap into this merchandising engine as well. Rather than spending on another 30-second spot, we can create an environment that really drives deep engagement with your viewers in a different way.”