More than 1,000 viewers have signed up for Evoca, the new TV service being launched Sept. 1 in Boise, Idaho, by Edge Networks that employs ATSC 3.0 Next Generation TV broadcast technology.
Evoca Early Access subscribers pay just $20 a month through the end of the year. Evoca plans to charge $49 for its service, which includes a free receiver, more than 45 channels and a free HD antenna that allows users to receive ATSC 1.0 broadcast signals over the air -- and avoid paying hefty retransmission fees to local TV stations.
“We’ve got way more people signed than we’ve got space for in the early access program. So to be honest, we’re not going to do a ton of marketing early on,” said Todd Achilles, CEO of Evoca.
“Tired of spending too much on cable? Enjoy high quality, live TV without breaking the bank,” is the pitch on the Evoca website.
Evoca is making its own “Scout” boxes that allow it to bring in programming from several sources and lets subscribers view them seamlessly.
The Evoca user interface features live linear channels that come in via either the ATSC 1.0 antenna or a 3.0 antenna, a catalog of VOD programming that are delivered either via broadband or downloaded into memory built into the set top box and a selection of video apps.
Achilles is looking forward to other broadcasters upgrading to the Next Gen broadcast standard.
“3.0 is the world's best air interface. It's better than 5G. It's more efficient than 5G and it's incredibly robust in terms of the experience,” Achilles said. “We're operating on low-power TV stations in Boise and our signal is as robust, if not more, than a lot of the 1.0 full power folk.”
At the top of the channel guide here is the Weather Channel.
“So this is a classic cable network. We bring it in. We push it over the air,” Achilles said. “We put it in position number one because everybody sort of checks weather first and this is a 3.0 stream that's coming in over the air,” Achilles said.
Last week, Evoca announced the addition of two new channels, BYUtv and Outdoor Sportsman Group. Those fishing and outdoors channels are important to viewers in Boise, Achilles notes.
A week before launch, Evoca subscribers get access via the antenna to local broadcast network affiliates, plus their digital multicast channels such as Antenna TV and Court TV. They also get some cable networks, such as CBS Sports Network, A+E Networks-owned A&E, History and Lifetime, and the Hallmark Channels and channels like Cowboy Channel, World Fishing Network, MAV TV, Stadium and Law&Crime.
Missing from the list are most of the biggest channels from the biggest media companies, which sell their programming in expensive bundles and have resisted letting them be sold on an a la carte basis.
Evoca’s Achilles sees that changing. “It's definitely an industry in transition,” he said. “In our conversations with them, number one is there aren't a lot of growth opportunities, so they're really excited about this, and number two [00:16:57] is, you know, they're moving into a direct-to-consumer VOD application model and they're kind of moving away from ‘Take our 26 channels.’"
But he acknowledges that negotiating with media companies has slowed Evoca down, particularly during the pandemic.
Similarly, Evoca doesn’t yet offer apps for popular streamers like Netflix or Hulu.
“Like everything else, it’s a work in progress,” he said.
Evoca will focus on mid-size and small cities starting in the Mountain West region not served by the cable giants.
“They’re basically TV deserts now,” he said. They’re chronically under-servce and they’re very little competition. What service there is is usually expensive and poor. And there’s a ton of broadcast spectrum available in these markets.”
Eventually Evoca will sell advertising and is set up to do advanced and addressable advertising.
“Out of the gate we're not going to be super aggressive on the advertising side,” said Achilles, noting that Evoca doesn’t have a sales team yet. “We'll do the basics. But as we as we scale and we ramp up up then clearly that's a big part of the business.”
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