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blinkx targets move from PC to TV

blinkx, the online video company, is hoping to move from the PC to the television after a deal with a set-top box company.

Miniweb, whose software sits in 9m BSkyB boxes, is working with blinkx to use its video search, recommendation and advertising-targeting technology. Miniweb was spun out of Sky in 2007.

The deal came as blinkx revealed results for the year to March ahead of analysts’ expectations. Sales increased 113 per cent from $6.5m to $13.9m, with pre-tax losses narrowing from $16.3m to $9.3m.

Earnings per share improved from a loss of 6.3 cents to a loss of 3.19 cents.

Advertising rates held up well through the financial year, in contrast to industry-wide declines of 30 per cent in the second half, as targeting and video adverts remained more popular with advertisers.

Suranga Chandratillake, blinkx founder and chief executive, told the Financial Times that bringing video technology from the internet to the television is a “key step in the industry”, as the BBC and ITV embark on their own set-top box project.

“Today, TV is a very ‘walled garden’ experience,” he said, alluding to the early days of the internet when service providers such as AOL restricted their customers’ browsing to a limited part of the web.

“The second you can get anything like a normal internet connection in there, that changes rapidly,” Mr Chandratillake said.

He said that blinkx could help a television service learn a viewer’s favourite programmes and recommend similar shows.

A first version of the combined Miniweb-blinkx system could be ready by this autumn.

Analysts at Citigroup said in a note to clients that the Miniweb deal looked “extremely interesting”. They added that Tuesday’s results made “the path towards break-even and cash generation [look] more visible”.

However, Piper Jaffray warned that a foreign exchange loss of $9.3m put cash balances below expectations, although blinkx should still have enough reserves to reach profitability.

blinkx shares fell 2½p to 16½p in Tuesday afternoon trading.