Today, Wherever.TV put out a press release to announce that it had relaunched its service “after an extensive overhaul.” Considering that it’s been around since 2007, well before anyone coined the term “over-the-top,” this makes Wherever both the newest and one of the oldest internet-based streaming services.
Wherever was founded by Mark Cavicchia, who also invented “its core patent,” the Global Interactive Program Guide. The service picked up a lot of buzz at the 2009 International CES (don’t call it the Consumer Electronics Show, but for 2018 you can call it just plain CES), named by show organizers one of the top 30 new innovators. “That’s what blew me away more than consumer interest, the fact that big, big companies are coming to us, figuring out ways to integrate our product into their existing products to expand what they do for their customers,” Cavicchia told the Pittsburgh Business Times that month.
In subsequent years, Internet Archive-captured pages show that Wherever listed American over-the-air broadcast channels, American pay-TV channels such as Fox News, Fox Business, and the Weather Channel, and a variety of international channels. The press release that Wherever issued in December 2015 when Cavicchia stepped down as CEO said that the service and the guide were inspired in 2005 when he was living in Shanghai and wanting to watch US-based channels on the internet.
With the revamp, things look different at Wherever. It offers only a few packages: Choice, Spanish, World News, and Faith. Choice is the most complete, with 40 lower-tier channels such as eScapes, One America, and Mav TV, and runs $9.99/month.
An old Wherever Facebook post suggested Choice14 as a free trial promo code; it worked for me, so I loaded the service today. It was a brief test, and I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t try every channel, and the majority loaded okay, but there were six that failed including my beloved eScapes. Scrolling through the guide, I found Comedy Time at the beginning and Comedy TV almost at the end. The “classic movie channel” Films On Reel was showing a public domain Beverly Hillbillies episode. Clicking the TVGuide button showed me “Programming not available”.
I never root against a plucky OTT startup, even a rebooted one, but right now I don’t see anything to recommend Wherever unless you’re that much in love with one of its channels that aren’t available elsewhere. As it stands now, I’d rather have Pluto TV’s free package of channels than Choice’s, and it’s hard to imagine too many viewers paying $10/month for these lesser-known channels to stand alone or to supplement cable TV, Hulu, Netflix, or Sling. I hope that Wherever gets better again.