What Is Comcast Doing With VivaLiveTV?

SEC filings claim that company behind a skinny-bundle, subscription OTT-TV service has notched a content and tech partnership with Comcast Technology Solutions that kicks in January 2019.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

December 20, 2018

7 Min Read
What Is Comcast Doing With VivaLiveTV?

Viva Entertainment Group, a little-known company that markets and sells a skinny-bundle OTT-TV service called VivaLiveTV, has apparently forged a content and technology services agreement with a division of Comcast.

According to an 8-K filing made by Viva Entertainment Group on November 28, the New York-based provider of subscription video streaming TV services has entered into "material definitive agreement" with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) that's to start in January 2019.

The specifics of the agreement are vague, but the filing notes that Viva Entertainment and its VivaLiveTV service will soon "begin working on content, logistical and other technological services provided solely by Comcast."

Figure 1: VivaLiveTV's 'Gold' package fetches $34.95 per month and features 150 channels, including feeds from broadcasters such as CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and ABC. VivaLiveTV is adding DVR capabilities on Friday (December 21). VivaLiveTV's 'Gold' package fetches $34.95 per month and features 150 channels, including feeds from broadcasters such as CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and ABC. VivaLiveTV is adding DVR capabilities on Friday (December 21).

Viva Entertainment then lavishes some praise on Comcast: "We at Viva are extremely excited and honored with this affiliation. Comcast’s open mind has added an element of excitement to the Viva family."

Per the filing, a joint press release about the agreement will be announced "in the near future."

Viva's amended 8-K filed on December 7 adds that the partnership taking effect in January is with Comcast Technology Solutions . That's the Colorado-based unit of the company that provides multiscreen video infrastructure and distribution services as well as ad-tech solutions and services. Comcast Technology Solutions also syndicates Comcast's X1 platform for operator-supplied set-tops, Web browsers, smartphones, tablets and select TV-connected devices such as Roku players. (See Comcast Technology Solutions Names New GM for Ad Platform.)

"This partnership will help enhance our subscriber base in order to create more revenue," Viva's amended 8-K reads, and then refers back to the aforementioned joint press release, noting it's expected to come out in "early 2019." To me, that's an indication that it will be announced at next month's CES.

Both Comcast and Viva haven't commented beyond the information contained in the Viva filings. But if I had to guess, CTS will be playing a role in preparing and distributing the video feeds for Viva's OTT-TV service, though it's not clear to me if digital distribution rights to TV programming and other content will also be tied into any of this.

It's also not yet known if Viva's partnership involves X1 syndication or some form of it that, perhaps, (and this is pure speculation) lets Viva essentially white-label the platform with digital distribution rights to certain channels and content bundled into the agreement. Thus far, Comcast's announced X1 syndication deals have involved major US and Canadian cable operators -- Cox Communications Inc. , Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Shaw Communications Inc. and Videotron Ltd. (See Rogers Sparks 'Ignite TV' Using Comcast's X1.)

That Comcast Technology Solutions is working with an OTT video company is not all that extraordinary, given that the unit works with various programmers on multiscreen video streaming apps and services. But partnering with a virtual MVPD seems like a new business tangent for CTS. And if X1 syndication is involved, that would be even more interesting and surprising.

Next Page: Who is Viva Entertainment?

Who is Viva Entertainment?
So, what is Viva Entertainment Group and what do they do?

Let's start with what they do -- at the moment, anyway. Much of the firm's focus is around an OTT-delivered, no-contract "Viva Gold" TV package that costs $34.95 per month and features 150 channels, including feeds from broadcasters such as CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS and ABC, and national cable networks such as Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, Univision, History, FX, and Food Network. The package also builds in some international fare such as TV Bahia, NHK World and Saigon TV. In addition to live TV, VivaLiveTV's multiscreen offering also provides catch-up and start over TV services and access to a VoD library.

Earlier this month, Viva announced a deal to add premium movie services from Sony and plans to launch a cloud DVR service tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 21) that will let users pause, fast-forward and rewind live TV streams for free alongside an option for customers to purchase storage space to record shows.

The Viva service also requires the customer to activate a "primary device," which can be a Roku box or Viva's own Android TV-powered player, which it sells for $84.95. Subs can also get service on add-on devices, such as a Fire TV player, Apple TV box, or Android or iOS smartphones and tablets.

The Omniverse connection
Currently, VivaLiveTV's website notes that the service is an "authorized distributor in cooperation with Omniverse One World Television," a somewhat mysterious company/programming distributor that has been linked to a cadre of other small providers of skinny-bundle OTT-TV services, including SiliconDust's HDHomeRun Premium TV, TikiLive, Milo TV, ExchangeVue, Flixon and SkyStream.

Yet another Omniverse partner to emerge is Clikia, which offers a trio of pay-TV packages, including one called Cable Stream that starts at $31.95 per month, and allows access to one stream per account. A $41.95 per month tier called Family Stream allows for up to five simultaneous streams.

According to TechHive's brief review of SkyStream, the local broadcast feeds for the Omniverse partners come way of New York area stations, and the feeds of some national cable channels, like FX, are locked into the Pacific time zone feed. The reviewer also found SkyStream to have "less polish" than more mainstream virtual MVPD services such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now.

And it seems that there's some heat being put on Omniverse, or on some of its content distribution partners, anyway.

Earlier this month, SiliconDust confirmed to CordCutterNews that they are meting out credits of $10 per month to subs after channels from Hallmark and Discovery Communications were pulled from SiliconDust's HDHomeRun Premium TV service. SiliconDust told the publication that the channels were removed due to an "upstream contract dispute" with Hallmark and Discovery.

Viva hasn't indicated how its relationship with Omniverse might change once the Comcast agreement takes hold next year. Kansas City, Mo.-based Omniverse has not responded to a request for comment about its video distribution business and its relationship with Viva and its other partners.

OTT-TV not yet paying off for Viva
Viva Entertainment is a Briarwood, NY-based company that's publicly traded on the Over-the-Counter/Pink Sheets market under the "OTTV" symbol.

Viva Entertainment was formerly known as Black River Petroleum group, which, in 2016, was acquired by Viva Entertainment Group in a reverse merger transaction. Viva is led by founder, chairman and CEO Johnny Falcones, who previously developed a record label with Universal Music and Video Distribution, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Per an SEC filing, Black River Petroleum was founded in 2009, and previously dealt in selling over-the-counter and prescription medications and supplements before altering its focus in 2012 to the natural resources sector, acquiring and exploring base metals and mineral mining properties.

Seriously, that's what the filing says. I don't know of any companies that started in meds, moved to metals, and then settled on OTT-TV. Then again, Clikia used to be known as MK Automotive. Perhaps it just takes time, patience and the right opportunity to find one's calling. Or the OTC market is just a breeding ground of corporate weirdness.

Viva's financials aren't too hot. The company doesn't break out its subscriber numbers, but this 10-Q filing shows that it posted a fiscal Q3 net loss of $2.38 million on revenues of just $8,470. As of July 31, the company had an accumulated deficit of $26.55 million.

The 10-Q also mentions that Viva's auditors "believe there is substantial doubt that we can continue as an on-going business for the next twelve months unless we obtain additional capital to pay our bills. This is because we have not generated any material revenues or profits."

So, that's what I've been able to piece together so far. I'm looking forward to being illuminated further when the formal joint announcement with Comcast is supposed to drop.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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