Skip to main content

Simple.TV raises capital to launch DVR for the connected world

A new startup company called Simple.TV is raising capital for a launch of its off-air digital video recording (DVR) system.

After winning a best-of-show award at the 2012 CES in Las Vegas, Simple.TV began a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign with a goal of $125,000 and quickly exceeded it. The company’s vision is to have users cancel their subscription TV services in favor of streaming free HD content from broadcasters to mobile phones, tablets and connected TV sets. It’s a lot like the Aereo service being contested by broadcasters in court, and similar legal proceedings may be forthcoming.

Calling it a DVR for the connected world, Simple.TV founder Mark Ely noted that most Americans have access to the major networks —ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS—with a simple HD antenna.

“Yet most of us pay a fortune every year just so the cable companies can deliver it to us in our living rooms,” he said. “But we’re not watching all our shows in the living room anymore, our lives are mobile; we’re watching TV shows on our iPads and our laptops... in the airport… our favorite coffee shops... at our friend’s apartment… in the back seat of the car.”

He asked why we can’t we get all that free content onto our iPad, Roku, Apple TV, Roku Box, Mac, connected TVs? Why is there no DVR app that lets users watch and record all the live TV and primetime shows they can’t get from other Internet services?

With those questions, Ely said, he and his team created just such a technology. “Actually, we made a home-based DVR that you control with an app and that you can watch nearly anywhere,” he said. Ely is no amateur. He was recently president of strategy for Sonic Solutions, which used to own Roxio, DivX, CinemaNow and Main Concept.

Simple.TV doesn’t plug into your TV set and it won’t let you get encrypted cable or satellite TV. What it will do is capture free-to-air broadcast TV or basic cable shows and make them available on all the users favorite connected screens, whether at home or on the road. Up to five family members can watch Simple.TV simultaneously.

The device captures live TV from its antenna/cable input, encodes it into variable bit-rate video and stores it on a USB hard drive that the user provides (network attached storage will be supported down the line). It then acts as a server and delivers those streams to almost any connected screen that can play back H/264.

A Simple.TV app can be installed on any number of connected devices (or access via browser) and it will be ready to start watching and recording live TV.

The service is free, but a premium service will be offered with a television program guide and the ability to stream to devices outside the home. Those devices initially include iPads, Mac or PCs and the Roku box.

The price is $4.95 a month or $49 a year. Retail for the Simple.TV DVR is normally $149, but can be purchased for a pledge of $125 on Kickstarter.

The company plans to start deliveries this summer. See a video demo: