Bay Area tech vendor MobiTV said it now has around 120 telecom operator clients for its managed IPTV platform, MobiTV Connect.
MobiTV CEO Charlie Nooney conducted a phone chat to Next TV Tuesday, virtually alongside an executive for one of MobiTV’s operator clients, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based EPB, Katie Espeseth, VP of new products. Nooney said MobiTV has reached the deployment phase with roughly half of its pay TV operator clients.
“We’re effectively turning them into virtual MVPDs and allowing them to compete with OTT providers,” Nooney said. “We’re a white-label service that allows our operator clients to maintain their own channel lineup and their own branding, and basically keep control of their video service.”
Based in Emeryville, Calif. and privately funded with $213.8 million, according to Crunchbase, MobiTV launched its Connect platform in July 2017 with Mississippi’s C Spire. MobiTV Connect now has transport licenses with around 350 cable networks and roughly 4,000 local broadcast stations, allowing it to create highly customized channel lineups for its operator clients.
These pay TV operators license content from programmers the traditional way, but no longer have to worry about video tech infrastructure, or set-tops or truck rolls. Video is delivered to popular OTT devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, as well as Apple and Android mobile devices.
MobiTV is self-install, removing truck rolls from the business equation.
“If you can get out of the expensive head-end infrastructure portion of it, the pay TV business is still very profitable,” Nooney said.
MobiTV’s customer base has been enhanced by its relationship with the National Cable TV Cooperative (NCTC), which includes 850 small cable operators, the Electric Power Board (EPB) among them.
“From an operator perspective, it’s a huge advantage to be able to control a specific channel lineup that suits our local subscriber base and reflects its taste,” said Espeseth, explaining why EPB turned to MobiTV instead of licensing a third-party vMVPD, such as YouTube TV or fuboTV.
Espeseth said around 11,000 of EPB’s 50,000 video subscribers have been migrated to its version of the MobiTV Connect platform since it was launched on its system in August. EPB is currently migrating customers to Connect at a pace of around 1,000 subscribers a month.
As an over-builder marketing only fiber internet, EPB has been way out ahead of the industry curve, bringing 1-gig internet to the market way back in 2010, and offering 10 Gbps speeds in 2015. EPB has around 100,000 customers in all, serving a 600 square mile footprint in and around Chattanooga. The company’s core products are 300 Mbps, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps internet.
“We try to position ourselves as a technology leader, and our video brand has to reflect that.”
EPB has kept its bundles and channel lineups the same amid its transition to the MobiTV Connect platform. For $83 a month, customers can bundle 300 Mbps fiber internet with a 21-channel package (branded EPB Fi TV) that includes six simultaneous streams and over 1,000 VOD titles. For $135 a month, you get a 95-channel bundle with pretty much every major cable outlet covered. The top-end Gold tier ($153 a month) bundles 300 Mbps internet and 160 channels.
EPB’s pay TV subscriber base is growing again after falling into decline—Espeseth said the company has picked up around 1,500 new video subscribers since launching its version of Connect service. It’s also had to deliver 4,000 fewer truck rolls since August.
“We don’t have to worry about getting set-tops back, and we don’t have to worry about installing the service,” she added.
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