Wurl Launches Batch of Streaming Channels

Wurl said more than 50 operators have signed on to distribute a handful of ad-supported, over-the-top streaming channels that will appear in set-top guides alongside traditional, linear TV services. 

Wurl, a Palo Alto-based company that specializes in streaming video services for pay TV operators, said it’s booting up the offering with a mix of its own aggregated/curated streaming channels -- The Alt Channel (“millennial-targeted” content), Streaming News Network, and The Sports Feed -- as well as two offerings sourced from programming partners: the Popcornflix Channel and Baeble Music TV.

All five are designed to appear in a set-top’s on-screen guide like regular linear channels. In addition to accessing those channels as a linear-style feed, viewers will also have the option to access on-demand programming from those OTT channels. 

Content from those channels have typically been accessible via digital platforms (such as the Web, mobile devices and streaming media players), but, with Wurl’s cloud-based platform, are now being made available on set-tops from MVPDs, Sean Doherty, Wurl’s CEO and co-founder, explained.

“This is a very cable-friendly way to let pay TV subscribers access streaming content,” he said.

As for technical requirements, set-tops must have an IP connection to pipe in Wurl’s streaming channels. Wurl has also been integrating its platform with middleware and set-top software partners to get its content stitched into guides alongside more traditional programming.

Wurl said more than 50 operators representing 13.5 million subscribers have agreed to carry its streaming channels. Doherty said most of its initial partners use the Arris Whole Home Solution or a TiVo-powered platform.

The first and only announced distribution partner announced is Fidelity Communications, an independent operator that serves parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Fidelity offers the Arris Whole Home Solution (WHS), an IP-capable platform, under the “Fido” brand. Wurl and Arris, which recently sold the WHS assets to Espial,  announced an OTT integration deal in July 2014.

“We now have a new source of programming and new interactive viewing features that will give us a competitive edge,” Loren King, product manager at Fidelity, said in a statement.

Doherty said it’s offering its OTT channels at no cost to the operator, and that it drives revenues from a programmatic, cloud-based ad management and insertion system called AdSpring. Wurl uses that platforms to sell ads, but also enables its programmers and operator partners to sell inventory on its platform as well.

Wurl timed the announcement with this week’s The Independent Show in Orlando.