Bamboon, based in Long Island City, NY, is seeking New York-area residents to beta test a new service that will use cloud technology to deliver over-the-air television signals to computer users via the Internet.
How far Bamboon will get is still unknown. Last year, two new digital video companies — FilmOn and ivi TV — transmitted over-the-air broadcast signals via the Internet free to viewers. They quickly became involved in legal actions that forced them out of the business.
Bamboom has a different approach than the earlier companies. Rather than being a broad-based Internet video distributor, it assigns a tiny broadcast “antenna” to each customer through “cloud” technology. The TV signal can be moved to any device — including Apple’s popular iPad — with a browser. This means Bamboom delivers to one customer via one stream.
“Free over-the-air broadcast TV should be available to anyone within the service area of a channel,” Bamboon wrote on its website. “Consumers should have the freedom to choose when and where they watch, whatever they want to watch, on whatever device they want to watch it.”
Bamboom is focusing on over-the-air broadcast signals — not cable. Later, it could have a DVR option where it could charge consumers. In addition to broadcast television, Bamboon has integrated Netflix to make its library of streaming movies and TV shows also available to viewers.
Facebook and Twitter are also built in, so users can chat with friends about a show they are watching. The service comes with a simple software interface that makes it easy to find programs on any computing device.
First, however, Bamboon is preparing to face legal action from television stations owners. In court actions so far, the broadcasters have been winning. This time it could be different.
Bamboom is unique enough it can’t be assumed it’s like the others who have tried delivering broadcast television over the Internet. Though the concept of one customer, one stream may seem overly complex and expensive, it’s the same legal construction that Cablevision used to provide a remote DVR service for its customers. The Supreme Court approved that plan.
One customer/one use idea is also the same concept Amazon and Google are using to provide cloud-based music lockers without approval from the major record labels.
BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield warned that if Bamboom works, it could cause major problems for broadcasters. In recent years, broadcasters have been able to get cable providers like Comcast to pay large retransmission payments for the right to carry their programming. If Bamboom is doing the same thing for free, that’s going to destroy broadcasters’ retransmission leverage.
Bamboon has raised $4.5 million from FirstMark Capital, First Round and others. It is saving much of that money for legal fees in the fight ahead.
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