Didja allows its downloaders to stream live (or store for later viewing) some three dozen minor broadcast signals, mostly ethnic channels and diginets. It's a first step. Plans calls for offering most broadcast signals, including Big Four affiliates, to more than 60% of U.S TV homes. CEO Jim Long says he knows he will have to pay for the affiliates to come aboard and has already begun those discussions.
Startup Streaming Broadcast Signals In SF
A Silicon Valley startup is taking the first step today toward the day when it hopes it will be streaming most local broadcast TV signals to smartphones in at least 60% of the country for less than $20 a month.
The startup is Didja of Mountain View, Calif., and the first step is the availability of an app in San Francisco that will allow its downloaders to stream live (or store for later viewing) some three dozen minor broadcast signals, mostly ethnic channels and diginets.
The service is being marketed in San Francisco as BayAreaBTV.
The basic service is free, but users will have to pay $4.95 a month for the cloud-based DVR functionality. Didja hopes that that fee will be enough to sustain the company until it brings on the major broadcast channels.
Plans calls for gradually launching the service in more markets — 40 by 2020 — while gradually adding more broadcast signals, including affiliates of the Big Four networks, said CEO Jim Long.
The 40 markets will cover more than 60% of U.S. TV homes. “We have ideas about how to handle perhaps the next 100 with station group partners,” Long said.
Once Didja has lined up all or most of a market’s broadcast signals, he said, he expects that the service will cost viewers between $15 and $20 a month.
The pace of the rollout will depend on how quickly Didja can reach agreements with broadcasters and programmers for the mobile streaming rights, he says.
Unlike the defunct Aereo and others that have tried to stream broadcast signals, Long said he understands that he will have to pay broadcasters to retransmit their signals just as cable and satellite operators and OTT services like AT&T’s DirecTV Now do.
In accordance with broadcasting conventions, he said, Didja will “geo-fence” signals in each market. Only viewers within a market will be able to receive that market’s broadcast signals.
Long said he recognizes that clearing the rights will not be easy. But he has already had promising discussions with some executives at the big networks and stations groups and says he is optimistic he will eventually cut the necessary deals. “You can’t be an entrepreneur if you are not optimistic.”
He declined to identify the broadcast executives.
Didja issued a press release this morning that includes quotes from Univision EVP Eric Ratchman endorsing the service. “The Launch of LocalBTV is a great avenue for independent content creators and networks to expand their reach and engage new audiences,” he said. “We look forward to further exploring with LocalBTV how we can bring content to users’ fingertips.”
In an email to TVNewsCheck over the weekend, Long said Univision is not part of the service yet, “but as a major network with a wide audience reach in both bilingual and antenna households, and an understanding of the power of local broadcast, they are supportive of our thrust to get all the majors.”
In its press release, Didja did not list the channels that it is making available in San Francisco. However, the app, which can be downloaded from the App Store and GooglePlay, shows 35 channels. In addition to the ethnic channels, it includes such diginets as Scrippps’ Bounce TV and Grit, FremantleMedia North America’s Buzzr, Sony’s GetTV and Retro TV.
According to Long, the ethnic channels are eager for increased distribution and are not charging for retransmission. “This is like giving water to people in the dessert,” Long said. “They are coming to us.”
This morning’s press release contains a quote from one participating ethnic broadcaster — Deepti Dawar, COO of DiyaTV, which broadcasts South Asian programming on a subchannel of Lincoln Broadcasting’s independent KTSF San Francisco.
“As a local broadcaster with a large audience of bilingual households, we are always looking for ways to better serve our viewers,” Dawar said. “We believe the viewer is screen agnostic and by working with the Didja team to include DiyaTV in BayAreaBTV, we’re looking forward to being on another platform our viewers can use to watch Diya TV anywhere in the market.”
Long demonstrated the Didja app for this reporter last week during the NAB Show New York conference at the Javits Center. Users can change channels with a swipe, although there was about a second of buffering before channels locked in. They can also call up a grid to select channels or specific programs.
The DVR feature, which includes pause, rewind and fast forward, can record up to 300 hours of programming in the cloud. If you touch “record” while a show is in progress, it will record the show from the beginning.
The app also allows channels to be “cast” to big TV screens using Chromecast or AirPlay.
The launch of BayAreaBTV follows a successful trial since the beginning of this year in Phoenix . PhoenixBTV features 25-27 channels. It will continue to serve as a test bed for the apps, although Didja will not actively market it, Long said.
According to the press release, the next step for Didja is Los Angeles, which, like San Francisco, has a bounty of ethic channels that are eager for distribution on any platform.
Long describes himself a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur. Didja has been around three-and-a-half year and has so far raised $18 million from non-media sources, he said.
Expanding the service at the rate he hopes, he said, will require a new influx of capital next year.