Akimbo Gets New Backers

Internet video-on-demand firm Akimbo Systems has closed a $15.5 million financing round, gaining technology giant Cisco and telco AT&T as new investors, along with venture-capital firm Blueprint Ventures.

Akimbo, which announced a deal in April to provide programming to AT&T's new Homezone hybrid satellite/Internet TV service, plans to launch an RCA-branded set-top later this year that will cost around $250 and store up to 150 hours of standard-definition video. That box will have access to content from movie-on-demand service Movielink, says Akimbo CEO Josh Goldman, along with Akimbo's mix of cable network programming and condensed versions of Major League Baseball games. The Akimbo service costs $10 per month, while premium content bears an additional charge.

While AT&T' s Homezone service is due to launch in July, Akimbo's won't be enabled on the service until late September, says Goldman. Akimbo doesn't currently have a deal to provide Internet video to AT&T's full-featured IPTV service, U-verse, but is talking with AT&T about "various platforms and opportunities," says Goldman.

Goldman, who expects that 80% of Akimbo's subscribers will eventually be using the service through an integrated cable or set-top box, adds that Akimbo has also had early discussions about providing content to the MovieBeam video-on-demand service. Cisco is an investor in MovieBeam and manufactures the MovieBeam set-tops, which currently receive content over-the-air but also have the ability to connect to the Internet.