Companies form ‘FlexVU’ branding partnership to provide consumer education about OTA choices

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—A group of companies including developers of antenna and hardware/software technologies have created a new marketing coalition to make it easier for consumers to view over the air broadcast with streaming services.

In the announcement of its formation last week, the companies, which include Antennas Direct, Hauppauge, Nuvyyo, Pixelworks, Plex GmbH, Resonian, and Shenzhen Geniatech cited the complexity cord-cutters face when trying to combine OTT/streaming services with free over-the-air local broadcasts.

“As a growing number of consumers abandon traditional cable and satellite subscriptions to gain increased control over content selection and the associated cost of video entertainment, they are often faced with added complexity as well as limited or overpriced access to local broadcast TV channels,” they said. “The genesis of FlexVU is a mutual end-goal of helping consumers “select the most seamless and high-performance cord cutting solutions, including the ability to access TV content from anywhere with a connected display device.”

[Read: Cord-Cutting Pace Accelerates As Viewers Seek Premium Programming, Says EMarketer]

As part of its initiative, the coalition said it would be advancing what it termed “a broader ecosystem under a newly recognized and industry-supported brand.”

Along with offering so-called “skinny bundles”—lower cost OTT services which target cord-cutters—several consumer electronics vendors like DISH and TiVo have made recent attempts to integrate OTT and OTA. Earlier this year, DISH launched “AirTV” an over-the-top, over-the-air service that gives customers access to dozens of over-the-air broadcast channels across multiple devices inside and outside of the home. Last week TiVo introduced its “Bolt OTA for Antenna” which combines OTT and over-the-air signals, delivering four tuners and a one terabyte hard drive capable of recording 150 hours of HD programming. The company describes the new box as a an “upgrade” to its “Roamio” DVR, which targets cord-cutters and has been available for four years.

Likewise, FlexVU member Nuvyyo offers its Tablo device that features an OTA tuner that provides DVR-type services to over-the-air viewers, as well as the ability to stream OTA signals to home Wi-Fi setups.

The coalition defined five elements that make up the FlexVU initiative—TV antenna, TV tuner, transcoder, software for the user interface and a DVR that allows consumers to view content on any device anywhere. It has also launched a consumer education portal www.flexvu.tv, which includes specific product and component recommendations, testimonial videos from FlexVU partners and useful links to tools, such as a Channel Finder to help consumers determine what local TV channels can be access based on their zip code. In addition, the FlexVU Web site has a helpful animation that provides an easy to understand overview of the key benefits and messages of the FlexVU initiative.