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A+E Networks leads £5m TVPlayer funding

Live streaming TV platform TVPlayer has completed a £5 million (€5.75m) investment round led by global media content company A+E Networks.

TVPlayer is a freemium over-the-top TV service in the UK which offers all of the country’s major free to air channels, as well as a pay-TV bundle of 30+ premium channels for £4.99 per month without a contract.  As part of the free to air package, TVPlayer will offer A+E Networks’ Blaze which launched in the UK on September 20.

The start-up, which already has over 1 million active users, targets millennials, mobile users and households who have not previously purchased pay-TV. In doing so, TVPlayer says it offers broadcasters an incremental audience on top of traditional pay-TV operators.

Major broadcast networks including A+E Networks, Fox, Viacom, Discovery, Eurosport, SONY, UKTV, Turner, Scripps, ITV, Channel 4 and Five already have their channels on the TVPlayer platform. In total, over 100 channels are available across desktop, mobile, tablet, Samsung Smart TV, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in the home and on the go, via wired, WiFi, 3G and 4G. TVPlayer has acquired 4G streaming rights for all of its channels and is the first service in the UK to have done so.

The investment will be used to develop the content offering further and to expand distribution of the service in the UK. A sizable marketing campaign, including TV spots on a number of free to air channels, will launch in the lead up to Christmas. Existing investors, including venture capital firm Beringea, invested alongside A+E Networks.

“We are very excited about the investment and the backing it provides operationally and financially for the expansion of TVPlayer,” declared Adam Smith, Founder of TVPlayer, suggesting the service had already succeeded in building a first-class content delivery platform and was the first provider in the UK to launch a legal live TV streaming service carrying all of the major channels. “With our investors’ support, we look forward to focusing on our efforts on customer acquisition and subscriber growth,” he added.

As part of the transaction, TVPlayer has de-merged from its parent company Simplestream and now operates as a standalone company with dedicated management, marketing and technology teams. Founder Smith, and Co-Founders Lewis Arthur and Dan Finch continue to hold a significant stake in the business and will work alongside a new management team soon to be announced.

In a separate announcement, AIM-quoted company YOLO Leisure and Technology plc, which focuses on opportunities in the technology and leisure sectors, noted the investment and confirmed that while it did not participate in the investment round, it now has a 4.66 per cent direct holding in TVPlayer. Following the TVPlayer demerger from Simplestream, YOLO maintains a 6.21 per cent stake in Simplestream, which continues to sell specialist online streaming software to broadcasters and is a profitable organisation.

Simon Robinson, CEO of YOLO Leisure & Technology plc, commented: “A+E investing into TVPlayer is an enormous vote of confidence in the team and potential of the live TV business.  It opens a significant growth opportunity by having a global media giant as an investor and partner.  We are delighted at the value this exciting investment creates and the substantial premium on the early stage backing that YOLO made.”

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