Zeebox to launch in the U.S. within 60 days

U.K.-based social TV app maker Zeebox is going to bring its programming guide to the U.S. within the next 60 days, according to Zeebox co-founder and CTO Anthony Rose, who demonstrated the app Wednesday at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco.
Zeebox is a second-screen app that allows users to discover TV programming on their iPads, change the channels on their TV sets and receive additional content on the second screen. The company uses a combination of video content recognition and natural language processing to analyze currently airing shows on any of the 80 or so U.K. TV networks that Zeebox users can receive on their TV sets.
To do so, it has built a network of aerial receivers that ingest broadcast TV and then analyze closed captions. “We know what’s playing second-by-second,” Rose said. This enables the company to eventually deliver second-screen advertising similar to the way Google (s GOOG) is selling contextual ads matched against the content of a web site or search results page. Users could, for example, see an ad for a soft drink whenever it is mentioned in any TV show – whether that mention was originally sponsored or not.
Zeebox will be met with high expectations in the U.S., in part because of its executive team: Rose was once the CTO of file sharing app maker Kazaa and later became the online controller of the BBC, overseeing the design and launch of the broadcaster’s popular iPlayer.
The company also hired former Time Warner executive Jason Forbes in March to lead the U.S. expansion, and he revealed on Wednesday at TV of Tomorrow that the company has seen one million app downloads in the U.K. since its launch last November. Forbes said that this rate of adoption should make it possible to get six million U.S. users within the first half year of operating stateside.
For more on Zeebox, check out Bobbie Johnson’s review of the company’s iPad app.