Multi-screen video

Time Warner Leads $12M Round for You.i TV

A year after raising approximately $9 million in its first round of funding, app platform provider You.i TV has raked in an additional $12 million through a second round led by Time Warner Investments.

The strategic investment comes as the Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) subsidiary Turner is now standardizing its multiscreen apps across multiple network brands -- including TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movie -- on the You.i Engine platform. Additional participants in the Series B round include new investor Vistara Capital Partners and existing investor Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P. (See Time Warner Leads $12M You.i TV Investment.)

The latest funding win isn't You.i TV's first positive milestone as a startup. The company says it's grown 1,000% in the last five years and now powers more than 3 million apps. You.i TV earned love from the cable industry back in 2013 when its gesture-based user interface technology won for "Best New Idea" at the CableLabs summer conference. The company also counts shomi, the over-the-top video service developed by Canadian cable operators Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Shaw Communications Inc. , among its customers. (See Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix.)

However, You.i TV's primary success has come outside of the traditional service provider space. In addition to Turner networks, the You.i TV engine is behind the Sony Crackle service and apps from Canadian media company Corus Entertainment.

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The rise of the TV app platform business is a testament to the growing desire by media companies to become their own video distributors. As much as programmers still rely on traditional TV service providers to offer their content in bundles, they're also increasingly branching out with new offerings online. These include both brand new services like HBO Go and CBS All Access, as well as authenticated apps like Discovery Go and apps from ABC and NBC that can only be accessed with a pay-TV subscription.

Time Warner itself is expanding its distribution efforts in multiple ways. The programmer bought a 10% stake in Hulu LLC just last month with plans to participate in that company's upcoming live streaming service. (See Time Warner Binges on Hulu.)

You.i TV, meanwhile, says it will use its new funding from the Series B round to accelerate deployments, improve its app design workflow, and grow its partner channels. The company's primary differentiator is its ability to offer customers the chance to build apps for multiple platforms off of a single codebase.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

inkstainedwretch 9/14/2016 | 12:25:15 PM
500 apps and nothing on All of these companies need app-ify their distribution in order to serve customers who clearly want to consume video through apps. Each channel certainly finds value in having its own brand front-and-center, rather than hidden behind the brand of some MVPD or other distributor.

But I suspect that's only going to be workable in the short term, when there are only a few channels that have their own apps. What happens when every channel has its own app?

For those people who really do only watch two or three different channels, it's no big deal to manage two or three apps.

But what about those who spread their viewing across a much larger number of channels? There's a possibility that managing however many channel-apps -- 15? 27? 42? -- could become more trouble than it's worth.

Under those circumstances, I wonder if someone will eventually try to build One App To Rule Them All.

-- Brian Santo
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