BSkyB has acquired a 10% stake in social TV startup Zeebox for a multi-million pound sum.

Zeebox, which only launched in October, brings a social element to watching TV by allowing users to see what their friends are viewing and then talk about it online.

It includes web functionality, as well as iPhone and iPad apps that combine a live TV guide with collections of tweets and status updates for each show.

The deal provides BSkyB with exclusive UK rights to integrate Zeebox into its own mobile apps – it will first appear in the Sky+ app, which allows users to record programmes remotely.

Zeebox has attracted 250,000 members despite only being live for a few months, and seemingly has huge potential for monetisation. 

One obvious example is to allow users to buy items they are viewing on-screen – Zeebox’s services currently enable viewers to find background information and other apps about particular shows, as well as selling relevant products and services.

BSkyB’s ad team, Sky Media, will sell sponsorship and product placement opportunities around Zeebox’s ‘Zeetags’, which give additional information on characters and topics being shown on-screen.

In what has been a busy morning for connected TV news, Netflix has also today launched its streaming services in the UK and Ireland.

This kick-starts the competition for streaming content online with LoveFilm; both services have been rushing to secure exclusive deals with film and TV studios in recent months.

It will be an interesting 12 months for this space, particularly following Microsoft’s revamp of Xbox LIVE to make it an all-in-one entertainment hub and Google’s claim that Google TV will be embedded in the majority of TVs by this summer.

With the Zeebox deal BSkyB will also be bringing new products to the market, so expect an awful lot of innovation to come out of this space in the coming months.