Telco Clears Rights For Live Streams Via Roku

Canby Telcom will launch its new EZVideo Pay TV Lite service in Portland that will deliver eight live, linear streams from seven stations to subscribers' Roku OTT devices. The service has permission from all the stations involved and they will receive retrans payments.

An Oregon-based telco has negotiated the rights to stream live, local broadcasts and network programming to its Internet subscribers through a dedicated channel on a user’s Roku box — no bundled TV service required.

Next month, Canby Telcom will launch its new EZVideo Pay TV Lite service in the Portland market (DMA 22). Consumers in the market who subscribe to Canby’s Internet service, which ranges from $20 to $110 per month, depending on speed, and own a Roku over-the-top device, will be able to download the EZVideo channel and access eight live, linear streams from seven stations in the market.

Brandon Zupancic, Canby VP of network operations, says the telco worked with the local broadcasters early on in the development of EZVideo and says their model is covered by the compulsory copyright license.

“We were very meticulous on how we structured this service and studied all of those that went before us and had gotten into legal trouble,” Zupancic says. “Frankly, companies like Aereo are trying to push the envelope and utilize what they perceive to be loopholes. We’re not trying to do that at all. In fact, we’re trying to distance ourselves very clearly from what they’re doing.”

The key to doing that, Zupancic says, is showing that the Pay TV Lite model is nearly identical to its IPTV service.

“We made it clear that we have the retransmission rights, that we’re going to pay for use of those retransmission rights and that this is only available to our customers within the Portland DMA via a closed, private IP network,” he says.


According to Zupancic and Elemental Technologies, which is powering the technology behind EZVideo, Canby is the first telco to launch this type of service, but it isn’t the first to scratch the surface.

Last year, Skitter, a five-year-old company that has its own IPTV technology, struck agreements with two stations in Portland, but never heard back from Belo’s KGW (NBC) and Meredith’s KPTV (Fox). The company launched its Internet service in March 2012 and caught KGW and KPTV off guard. Patrick McCreery, GM of KPTV, said Skitter didn’t have the rights to distribute their signals.

McCreery says the deal with Canby is the complete opposite.

“We were very skeptical when Skitter came up, and then we educated ourselves and sought out opinions of experts,” he says. “When Canby came forward, they were able to clear all of the hurdles and give us enough assurance that their system would be closed, that it would provide authentication, based on geography, so we’re not impinging on someone else’s territory. It keeps the sanctity of the retrans agreement in place.”

The retransmission agreement between Canby and KPTV is a per-subscriber fee, McCreery says. “It doesn’t matter to me how their customers access their signal — it’s still a subscriber. If they have someone on their traditional cable model, or if they have someone on their Pay TV Lite model, either way, it’s a sub, and they pay me per sub.”

McCreery declined to comment on how much the station makes from Canby per subscriber. Zupancic says it was clear during discussions that the per subscriber, per month fee for the EZVideo platform will be the same as the IPTV platform.

Keith Wymbs, Elemental VP of marketing, says the cost of the EZVideo model is next to nothing because a telco providing an IPTV service doesn’t have to throw away its existing encoders.

“We essentially tap off that existing operation and then go into our encoders … and essentially take the live linear channels in and do an encoding process that create three different renditions of the content, then regress out of our solution in Apple HLS in three different profiles used for adaptive streaming. And then it gets delivered into the Roku.”

Wymbs says Canby will be the first to launch the EZVideo service, but won’t be the only. The media technology vendor plans on pitching other telcos that offer IPTV services this summer to set up the same model.

On June 3 at 10 a.m., Wymbs, Zupancic and McCreery will discuss the new service in a live webinar, “Pay TV Lite and the Future of IPTV.”

Elemental also plans on pitching the model at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association’s annual Cable Show June 10-12 in Washington.

Wymbs believes the EZVideo model also has a place in the cable market.

“It’s a really good alternative for customers that really don’t want to be beholden to the bundles,” he says. “It’s the whole á la carte story.”

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