Q&A: ivi Inc. Founder & CEO Todd Weaver

Light Reading Cable: How can you afford to wage this fight?

Weaver: People assume that you must have an absolute war chest and have a billion dollars to claim that you are not infringing on copyright. It is an expensive process. It’s a legal process, and we have the leading IP [intellectual property] firm out of Seattle representing us -- Black, Lowe & Graham. They [broadcasters] are saying we’re infringing on copyright. We’re saying we’re not, according to US copyright law. We point at the same paragraph they point at. It’s really not a multibillion-dollar effort. It is something that is a known legal plan, and so we are plowing forward.

Light Reading Cable: You’ll continue to operate as the litigation moves forward?

Weaver: Absolutely. Any time you’re facing a lawsuit against the names that we have in the suit right now, that does affect the business as we have to then talk about that whole piece. However besides that added hardship, it is business as usual. We’re going to continue to add markets. We’re continuing to add a large number of subscribers, and the legal proceedings will continue.

Light Reading Cable: Haven’t other companies tried to retransmit live TV signals on the Internet -- there was a company called iCraveTV?

Weaver: It in no way relates to what we’re doing. That the consumer has the ability to watch live TV on the Internet is about where the similarities end. They weren’t paying the broadcasters. They were not conforming to US copyright law.

Light Reading Cable: There’s another site called Filmon.com/TV. Are you familiar with them?

Weaver: What I gather is it’s a me-too service. We did incorporate before they did, and ran beta tests well before they did.

Light Reading Cable: When it comes to the idea of a virtual cable company, couldn’t anyone retransmit TV signals via the Internet, pay a compulsory license fee, and compete with you?

Weaver: We’ll see competition. Even YouTube, with their live streaming, that can become a competitor if they wanted to become an online cable system like us. And Hulu could, and cable and satellite companies could try to create an offering that’s similar.

At the end of the day it’s going to come down to technological hurdles. The ability to have it where it’s easy to tune, change channels, have it be continuous TV with a similar reliability that you get in your living room, is what I think really sets us apart. Next page: Chasing à La Carte

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:22:03 PM
re: Q&A: ivi Inc. Founder & CEO Todd Weaver

I can't see the big broadcasters -- especially Disney -- wanting to let this door open at all. It's no surprise that Ivi got sued, and if they prevail, they'll get sued again for some other reason.

Obviously Ivi isn't surprised either. I'm sure their business plan accounts for being sued a lot, so - kudos to them, I suppose, for managing to get funded & launched anyway.  (How much did Ivi raise?)

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:22:01 PM
re: Q&A: ivi Inc. Founder & CEO Todd Weaver

The broadcasters are pretty upset because they  rely on rich retrans deals with cable, telcos, and satellite TV that bundle in carriage of their cable networks.  ivi pretty much sidesteps that by doing the retransmission without negotiating all the other stuff, though they say they are paying the broadcasters some sort of fee.

But how this case end up could turn the biz on its head, especially if ivi comes out clean, but there would be appeals and, as you point out, the broadcasters might end up trying to sue them for something else.

Can't find anything on ivi funding, though... but I imagine they'd better put some away for a rainy day because they'll need to pay those lawyers.

Sort of reminds me of the early days of the Slingbox... That essentially allows you to retransmit all programming via the Internet. Some differences: Sling only slings what channels you get at home, and those signals are sent unicast to only one device (save for someone who's figured out a way to hack that so the box can multicast it to more than one PC, phone, etc., at a time).





TV Mananger 12/5/2012 | 4:21:34 PM
re: Q&A: ivi Inc. Founder & CEO Todd Weaver

You are both right.  The problem is running the shows and stations in time zone patterns. It fouls with revenues across the board.  It would have been the second coming few years ago to the stations, done right. But, now they get retransmission fees from the Cable guys.  If the programing was in in synch with time zones, there would be less to argue about.  The same problems for the FilmOne.

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