Giga Entertainment Media has a unique business model. The company offers an app and platform for tablets and mobile devices that enables end users to view over-the-top video and free local TV content simultaneously on multiple devices, and supports multi-user collaboration and other capabilities. The company gained the ability to offer the local TV content with its announcement this week that it has applied for and received a license from the FCC to operate as a multi-channel video program distributor (MVPD).
The MVPD status will enable the company to negotiate retransmission consent agreements with local TV stations nationwide. As GEM CEO Bryan Maizlich explained in an interview, the broadcasters “can’t refuse to negotiate with us and have to be fair and reasonable” in their negotiations. Maizlich also noted that the GEM platform has the ability to localize content so that those viewing content through the app will see local stations – and if the users travel, they will see stations in the broadcast market they are visiting. Maizlich expects to complete the retransmission consent negotiations within a few months.
GEM’s mobile device app, available at no charge, is called SIMUL SEZ. The app enables end users to personalize the look and feel of their viewing experience and to combine content with social media.
End users viewing You Tube and other over-the-top content through the SIMUL SEZ interface will be able to watch that content for free. Those wanting to view what Maizlich called “premiere” network content such as live sporting events or concerts will do so through a subscription, rental or pay-per-view approach. Rental content will be available on demand for a certain period of time.
GEM also is offering a white label version of its offering that the company expects to sell to cable companies, video programmers, IPTV providers and satellite TV providers. “We’re in discussions with several entities,” said Maizlich, who noted that the offering could be used to deliver an OTT service akin to the one HBO announced yesterday.
Maizlich also sees potential revenue sources for GEM involving advertising and e-commerce.
GEM’s announcement that it had received MVPD status came the same week that Aereo revealed it also was seeking that status. Aereo for a year or so offered local broadcast TV over the Internet using unique antenna technology without paying retransmission fees to the broadcasters, but was forced to exit that business when the Supreme Court ruled that the offering violated copyright laws. Many people expected Aereo to go out of a business as a result, but the company now apparently hopes that there will still be a market for its service — which also included DVR-style capabilities – even though end users would probably have to pay considerably more for the offering to cover the retransmission costs.