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Peeling Back Some Details on Layer3 TV

‘Umio TV’ trial hints at links between stealthy startup, Suddenlink 2/01/2016 8:00 AM Eastern

Layer3 TV, the stealthy “next-generation cable provider” based in Denver, has been mum about its go-to-market strategy, but its initial focus — partnering with small- and midsized operators — appears to be hiding out in the open.

 

Details about Umio TV, a service “powered by Layer3 TV,” recently emerged on the Web (at www.umio.tv), highlighted by a high-octane, 4K-capable, IP-powered set-top that provides an extensive lineup of video packages that include local broadcast networks and dozens of cable channels such as ESPN, as well as premium offerings such as HBO, Starz and Showtime.

 

Umio TV has been active on social media — it’s got a Twitter handle (@umiotv, with 10 followers at last check), an Instagram account (five followers) and a Facebook page (42 likes). It’s been using those platforms to sneak information out into the public domain.

 

Umio TV’s first tweet, this past Dec. 9, noted that the service was coming first to Midland and Kingwood, Texas, touting a beta test that lets users try the service for free for 60 days. Suddenlink Communications, now part of Altice Group, is the incumbent cable MSO in those markets, and the business address listed for Umio TV (520 Maryville Centre Dr., Suite 300, St. Louis, Mo.) is the same for Cequel Communications Holdings, which was doing business as Suddenlink prior to the Altice deal.

 

It’s pretty clear that Layer3 TV and Suddenlink are collaborating on the Umio TV trial, though both companies aren’t commenting.

 

Layer3 TV hasn’t publicized its strategy. But multiple sources not associated with the company who claimed to have knowledge about its plans told The Wire last year that part of its strategy is to partner with MVPDs and use their distribution rights. The Umio trial started in third-quarter 2015 and is currently “oversubscribed,” other sources said.

 

“Think of it as direct-to-consumer, but with MSO backing,” a source said, adding that the service could start in an MSO’s footprint, but conceivably expand under a “co-op” partnership between multiple operators.

 

“I think they [Layer3 TV] believe their opportunity really is to manage the TV business for operators that want to focus on high-speed data,” the source said of the Denver-based fi rm. “They are really trying to do something positive for the industry.”

 

MVPD partnerships might not be Layer3 TV’s only plan. It’s also noodling on a potential over-the-top service with its own distribution deals, sources said. Adding fuel to that notion is last year’s hiring of cable programming and distribution veteran Lindsay Gardner as Layer3 TV’s chief content officer, tasked with striking partnerships with cable networks, broadcasters, and other “compelling content creators and packagers.”

 

Layer3 TV opened its Denver headquarters in September 2014. It was founded in 2013 by cable industry veterans Jeff Binder, the former CEO of Broadbus (sold to Motorola in 2006), and David Fellows, the former chief technology officer of Comcast.

 

MTV Goes Live With Rebrand of Concert Net Palladia

 

In other branding news, Viacom is set to officially announce that concert-centric Palladia HD will dance to a new MTV beat starting today (Feb. 1). The network will be renamed MTV Live, with a new logo and look and an increased focus on live music programming, MTV reps told The Wire. (The rebranding was revealed recently, informally, by Comcast in a customer-support forum.)

 

The network began as MTV’s MHD: Music High Definition in 2006 and was renamed Palladia HD name two years later.

 

Relaunch week programming will include performances by Pink, Alt-J and Radiohead; timely documentaries Jay-Z: Made in America and David Bowie: Five Years; and a Best of Austin City Limits compilation, in addition to staple original series Live From Daryl’s House with Daryl Hall.

 

Viacom in December renamed VH1 Soul as BET Soul. And The Wire has heard that 56 million-subscriber VH1 Classic will be rebranded into MTV Classic, but Viacom reps have not confirmed that. VH1 Classic’s greatest hits include the 2005 special Matzo and Metal: A Very Classic Passover, featuring cultural remembrances by rockers Leslie West, Dee Snider and Jay Jay French.

— R. Thomas Umstead

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