A+E Networks Banks on TVPlayer

Leads £5 million round on U.K.-based ‘freemium’ OTT service
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A+E Networks has led a £5 million (US $6.4 million) investment round in TVPlayer, the U.K.-based “freemium” OTT service.

TVPlayer uses its platform to provide access to the U.K.’s major over-the-air TV channels, plus a premium “Plus” tier of 30-plus channels for £4.99 (US $6.42) per month.

Tied to the investment, TVPlayer will offer A+E Networks’ Blaze channel, which launched in the U.K. on September 30. TVPlayer also distributes channels from Fox, Viacom, Discovery Networks, Eurosport, Sony, Turner, and Scripps Networks, among others.

TVPlayer doesn’t reveal how many viewers are on its premium option, but said the service, targeted at millennials and mobile users, currently has more than 1 million active users. It supports several platforms, including Web browsers, iOS and Android mobile devices, Samsung smart TVs, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices.

TVPlayer said it will use the investment, which included participation from existing investor Beringea, to expand its content slate and its distribution in the U.K. It is also preparing to launch a marketing campaign leading up to Christmas 2016.

Linked to the funding, TVPlayer has “de-merged” from its parent company, Simplestream, and now operates as a standalone company with dedicated management, marketing and technology teams. Founder Adam Smith, and co-Founders Lewis Arthur and Dan Finch continue to hold a “significant stake” TVPlayer and will work alongside a new management team, which will be announced “soon.”

“Now is the right time to get some serious investment into the business,” Finch, who is commercial director of Simplestream, said. He noted that the separation also allows TVPlayer to operate with a revised skillset for its consumer-focused business, and for Simplestream to continue on as a business-to-business operation.

He noted that TVPlayer is past the incubation stage and ready to “stand on its own two feet.”

The TVPlayer freemium approach “is the future of TV delivery, as far as we’re concerned,” viewing it as complementary to SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Finch said about 80% of consumers who trial the premium-level service become to paying customers. “Our job is to maintain that conversation rate,” he said. 

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