MobiTV has raised another $21 million to expand its MobiTV Connect platform to enable online television and video in the home for smaller service providers. In its 17 years of operation, MobiTV has raised around $185 million in venture capital funding. The problem is that the bigger boys have invested even more.
This recent round for MobiTV added funding from Oak Investment Partners, a previous investor, and Ally Corporate Finance. MobiTV previously raised $16.5 million in 2013. Its biggest round raised $70 million in 2006. MobiTV has now raised a total of around $185 million in funding since it started in 1999.
If anything, MobiTV was founded before its time in the belief that people would want to stream television and video to mobile phones. That was before smartphones and tablets became ubiquitous.
MobiTV has customers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular in the United States. It also supports the Reliance live service in India. Since the launch of the Jio 4G mobile network, which gained over a100 million subscribers since its launch in September 2016, the live television service has reached 95 million unique users, serving as many as a million users per day.
Now the company is hoping to expand into the home, using its platform to deliver multiscreen services across different devices.
The idea seems to be that MobiTV will enable smaller service providers to adapt and adopt new features using its platform rather than being constrained by the capabilities of legacy cable boxes.
“We’re able to future proof the service providers’ pay-TV offerings through state of the art features and rich user experiences that are not constrained by the legacy STB ecosystem,” said Charlie Nooney, the chief executive of MobiTV. “Our ability to utilize widely adopted streaming devices allows real-time enablement of new technologies like 4K/HEVC, Cloud DVR, replay TV, robust voice control, and other consumer preferences across all screens without the high cost of replacing legacy QAM STBs in the home.”
The company is aiming at smaller operators that need solutions to compete with larger providers that have invested millions of dollars in building their own platforms, like Comcast Xfinity X1. Comcast offers its own services through its Technology Solutions division, which incorporates thePlatform, which it acquired in 2006.
“Our multi-tenant solution can be deployed through either a managed service or in-network offering, allowing us to address all operators of all sizes in a cost effective manner,” said Bill Routt, the chief operating officer of MobiTV.
MobiTV cites customers like C Spire, DirectLink and Citizens Fiber that are using MobiTV Connect in their move to internet protocol delivery.
C Spire is a wireless communications provider based in Mississippi with less than a million subscribers. It also offers high-speed broadband and is seeking to expand into television services across a variety of devices, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, as well as iOs and Android phones and tablets.
DirectLink is a telecommunications cooperative, formed from the former Canby Telephone Association and Mt Angel Telephone Company, both of which were formed over a century ago. Canby and Mt Angel in Oregon have a population of little more than 20,000 people between them.
Citizens Fibre offers a vIP TV service for customers. The company is based in Mammoth, Pennsylvania, which despite its name recorded 525 residents in the 2010 census.
There are literally hundreds of small independent telcos in the United States, many of them offering a fine service in rural regions. Yet the top six service providers in the country have more than 80 million television customers between them, or over 80% of the market.
The question is whether the smaller operators will be able to sustain their own independent television or video services, or whether others will simply deliver them over the top of their networks.