Didja, the company behind Phoenix BTV and Bay Area BTV, said it landed another $12 million round of funding according to an article posted early this morning by Jeff Baumgartner at Multichannel News. It also sounds like he got a chance to talk a bit with Didja CEO Jim Long.
Most of the article matches the speculation I’ve had, that Didja is using its current free test markets to try out different service configurations to see what works best. Although not stated, they’re also shaking out the technology so it’ll be ready for paying customers later. As I wrote yesterday, each local-market version provides a wide collection of unpopular channels (relatively speaking, of course) for which Didja has secured streaming rights, and each is only available to local viewers.
Baumgartner’s article had some hopeful notes. Thanks to the new funding, Didja plans to launch a Los Angeles version in early 2018 and to add more channels in the Bay Area market where the company makes its home.
In general, it sounds like Didja knows it will need the major broadcast stations to gain wide acceptance. “Looking ahead, Didja is also noodling on a longer-term business model by which it would offer a package of local broadcast networks for about $15 per month – with about two-thirds of that going to the network partners.” Speaking as a former NimbleTV and Aereo subscriber, I’d be up for that.
Didja, the company behind the fine services BTV Phoenix and BTV Bay Area, likes to advertise its new channels but ignore its dropped channels. Because of that, and to help anyone interested in joining either service, I thought I’d make a record of exactly what’s available now.
7.1 KAZT (independent)
21.4 TBN Enlace
38.3 Iz Videos
38.6 Retro TV
1.9 U Channel
4.2 Sky Link TV
12.10 CMC-USA Country Music Channel
20.4 This TV
26.2 Diya TV
26.3 MBC America
26.6 Viet Shopping TV
28.1 Creation TV
28.3 California Music Channel
28.10 Retro TV
28.15 The Country Network
32.1 KMTP (independent non-commercial)
32.5 Classic Arts Showcase
32.6 Arirang (KPOP)
36.2 KEMS / KBS World
36.3 CCTV News
38.1 Sonlife Broadcasting Network
38.5 New Tang Dynasty TV
60.1 KCSM (independent non-commercial)
60.2 France 24
60.3 Jazz TV
If it were up to me, I’d choose all the music channels in the Bay Area lineup over the extra movie channels and one independent station in Phoenix. Of course, you don’t get to choose. These services are only available to viewers who are within the associated TV market according to the BTV servers, which so far have diligently checked my IP address (Windows desktop) or device location service setting (Android tablet and phone). But if you qualify, go for it!
Yesterday, I wondered what drove Sling to withdraw from Channel Master’s over-the-air receivers. There’s no official reason yet, but Jeff Baumgartner pointed to a new device from Sling’s AirTV. Unlike the device Sling launched at CES 2017, the AirTV Player, this new one is called just, uh, AirTV.
The Player accepts an optional (though recommended) OTA adapter for local channels and streams Sling TV, Netflix, YouTube, and everything else that works on an Android TV. The new AirTV doesn’t have any streaming; instead it works a lot like SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun, taking an OTA antenna input and making it available throughout the house via WiFi. The differences are that the AirTV integrates with the SlingTV viewer app (and its own AirTV app) and makes those locals available from anywhere.
Another way to look at the AirTV is that it’s like a Tablo with no DVR, which is the most conspicuous omission for the AirTV Player as well. In a marketplace where a sub-$40 digital converter box can pause and record OTA, it seems like a no-brainer for AirTV to add it. Maybe I’ll learn more about it at CES next month.
Sling just sent out an email to subscribers, presumably just those who watch on a Channel Master DVR+, which began, “The time has come for us to bid farewell to one of our devices. Soon, Sling TV will no longer be supported on Channel Master.”
That was all the useful information the note provided about this change, so while I await responses to my inquiries to Sling and Channel Master, it’s a good thing that I have enough questions and speculation to fill the gap.
When is soon? The end of the year is a natural, but it might also align with …
Does this have anything to do with Channel Master’s Stream+? It’s supposed to launch at CES 2018, which is pretty soon, and it shares some characteristics and a common source (Technicolor) with Sling’s AirTV Player. When Sling jumped on the DVR+ at CES 2016, it was hungry for subscribers and didn’t have its own device. Maybe now Sling sees Channel Master as a competitor? Which leads to …
Who initiated this change?
Is Channel Master just shifting Sling viewers to the Sling Android TV app, which I would presume to be available on the Stream+? (Apparently not, see update below.) Did Sling want to make changes that wouldn’t fit on the DVR+? Or for some truly wild speculation, will Sling use CES 2018 to announce a local OTA DVR for AirTV?
I doubt that we’ll get all of those answers before next month, but I’ll update this as soon as I hear anything more.
Update: Channel Master emailed me to say that Sling initiated its removal from the DVR+. CM wrote, “Unfortunately, we do not have a reason behind their decision to pull the support.” I’m sorry to see it go.
Probably because all the cool kids run pay-TV services, T-Mobile will acquire Level3 TV, as recounted by Jeff Baumgartner of Multichannel News. T-Mobile said it will “launch a disruptive new TV service in 2018.” With all the other over-the-top services in place, I can’t imagine a niche in which T-Mobile would outperform the incumbents. But I’ve been wrong before.
In a similar vein, Stephanie Prange at Home Media Magazine described the relaunch of Redbox on Demand. It won’t be like the service that it shut down in 2014, instead providing options that remind me a lot of Vudu’s – short-term rentals or digital purchases. Redbox doesn’t have Vudu’s head start, but it’s got plenty of existing kiosk customers. But if your customers already rent new DVDs for less than $2 at kiosks, then how do you pitch the idea that they should stay home and pay $4 to rent the same movies online?
And Bloomberg’s Kyle Stock examines why it’s so hard to find Christmas classic films on streaming services. It’s because they’re not the fresh content that pay services crave and they’re not the long-tail losers that a studio might be willing to license on the cheap. “Of the 25 greatest holiday movies as ranked by American Movie Classics, only five are available for streaming on Amazon.com, Hulu or Netflix this season.” That’s one reason my holiday tradition is the cartoon Christmas Comes But Once a Year. It’s always free at the Internet Archive.