FilmOn set for autumn launch

Internet-based television service FilmOn is looking to launch in the US, Europe and the Middle East in autumn 2011, according to the operation’s founder and CEO Alki David.

The service is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by the major US networks which claims that FilmOn has been streaming the signals of numerous US TV stations “all without the consent of the affected stations or copyright owners”. The suit asks the court to enjoin FilmOn from streaming the signals and require it to pay damages to the plaintiffs. “It’s against the law to steal a broadcast signal and stream it to wireless devices and over the Internet, without the copyright owner’s permission,” the networks said in a joint statement. “FilmOn.com is the latest in a short line of companies that has robbed our broadcast signals and distributed them illegally for their own commercial gain.”

David refutes such charges, suggesting instead that FilmOn, as a platform, is geared towards protecting and presenting content in a way that maintains the status quo, as opposed to disrupting it. “We’re not a Napster; we’re not here to disrupt; we’re not here to do anything other than build on the opportunities of the advancement of IPTV,” he declared.

He described IPTV as “a great way to deliver communications and entertainment to a wider range of people in a more accessible way on a myriad of devices and platforms,” pointing out that FilmOn had secured deals with audience viewing specialists ComScore and Nielsen, and provided analytics enabling content owners, broadcasters and cable companies to benefit from its technology and the content it had aggregated. “We’re providing ways in which they can exploit their content to a wider range of people than they ever have done before,” he argued.

He said that in deal making, FilmOn was looking to secure a “fair and equitable” share in the revenue resulting from broader distribution. He warned that if major broadcasters didn’t embrace IPTV and over-the-top television, they risked becoming insignificant, as had become the case with the music industry.

Confirming that although FilmOn had shut off the major networks, it was still in detailed negotiations with a range of programmers, and would concentrate on doing deals with platforms, content owners and distributing the technology and content to people who could exploit it by using it as a value-added service to existing business, or building a platform such as FilmOn and then advertising it.

“Our focus for the next few months is to conclude deals with content owners, build up our platform, and once we’re ready, in four to six months time, start advertising heavily and promoting the platform. That way, we’ll have revenues from subscription and advertising. We’ll do it in America and Europe, as well as the Middle East,” he said, adding that a Middle East platform was currently being rolled out. “We’re online now; we have a growing base of users; we’re developing our own content; we’re gearing up for a major roll out in North America and Europe in the autumn. We’re in a ‘soft launch’ stage right now.”

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