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Vidgo Gets Closer to Go Time

Vidgo, a virtual pay-TV operator in the making that popped its head up in January at International CES, has said it’s nearing the launch of a service that, it claims, will provide access to local TV signals and create-your-own bundles.

“We’re definitely focused on [launching] this year,” Robert Kostensky, Vidgo’s president and cofounder and a former DirecTV executive, told Next TV in an interview.

Vidgo is presently in a closed technology beta trial with a handful of testers and is nearing the next phase—a consumer trial, he said. It will follow with a commercial launch, but the company hasn’t announced a specific date.

Vidgo, Kostensky said, will be a “true over-the-top service” that will be delivered via the company’s own content delivery network, use adaptive bit rate streaming and initially target what he estimates to be 20 million-25 million homes that are not currently subscribing to a traditional multichannel video programming distributor.

“They’re scrambling around, grabbing five different apps … to get their programming,” Kostensky said of those unserved homes. “We have built a system that is going to cater toward that demographic to begin with, and then, as the company evolves, into other marketplaces down the road.”

Vidgo will be far from alone amid an expanding universe of “virtual” MVPDs that are starting to include local broadcast TV signals. That group includes Sling TV (ABC, NBC and Fox for certain packages in owned-and-operated markets), the fuller- freight Sony PlayStation Vue service (which currently offers all of the Big Four broadcast networks’ owned-and-operated stations within their local markets) and a new pay-TV offering from Hulu that’s expected to launch in 2017 and provide access to local TV.

Vidgo has not announced all of its programming options or pricing, but it has begun to shed some light on what will be in store.

Last month, Vidgo announced it would offer low-cost bundles that feature local broadcast TV channels—including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS—in select initial markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco. That offering will be combined with video-on-demand, a network digital video recorder, sports networks and premium services. Discovery Networks, ESPN and NFL Network are among the other programmers Vidgo has referenced.

Vidgo’s VOD vault will supply more than 10,000 hours of content, according to Shane Cannon, president of Cannon Satellite TV (a Dish Network authorized dealer) and Vidgo’s chief marketing officer.

“Our core value [proposition] is the live locals and the customer’s ability to pick their channels,” he said. “We’re really trying to send the message that you’re watching shows and not necessarily channels.”

Early on, Vidgo plans to offer its app on several popular platforms, including Roku players, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, PCs and iOS and Android mobile devices.

Vidgo is privately funded, the executives said.