Tandberg Television made a bigger push into the world of interactive television (iTV) this fall with a deal to acquire GoldPocket Interactive in a cash and stock transaction valued at $78.5 million.

Closely-held GoldPocket develops and markets iTV software creation and management platforms for service operators and content providers. Among recent deals, GoldPocket paired up with HSN on the creation of a 24/7 iTV service that will enable viewers to purchase products via the remote control. CBS tapped GoldPocket earlier this year to build interactivity into several shows, including its popular Survivor franchise.

The acquisition is expected to shore up Tandberg's iTV software and technology portfolio, and establish it with television programmers and other content providers.

Last year, the company purchased N2 Broadband, a company specializing in video-on-demand backoffice software, for $118 million. Before its foray into VOD and iTV, Tandberg was well known for digital video gear, including encoding gear based on advanced compression platforms such as MPEG-4.

"We felt that interactivity was something that had reached a stage to reach scale in the marketplace. We think [GoldPocket] is a natural extension for us," said Tandberg President Reggie Bradford.

GoldPocket's advertising acumen will also kick in as so-called "free" VOD formulates a better business model, he added.

And it appears that Tandberg succeeded where others did not. According to GoldPocket CEO Scott Newnam, the company has had to fend off several offers over the years.

"We've had people knocking on our door...trying to buy the company," Newnam said. But finding the right buyer was a "personal issue," he added, noting that he believes he found a suitor that fit well with GoldPocket's product and culture.

GoldPocket hopes the deal will expand its presence. Currently, all of its customers are in North America. Tandberg, by comparison, is strong in regions such as Europe and Asia.

GoldPocket also has relationships with several major programmers, something that Tandberg was lacking.