14 Comments

Summary:

Tomorrow’s pay-TV box could be a handheld device or an in-TV app, if Magine, a new Swedish service using existing consumer gadgets and cloud distribution, gets its way.

Magine iPad app

From the land of innovative software design, Stockholm, comes another slick-looking product hoping to package up old-style content in a new way.

Magine is a service offering premium live and time-shifted TV channels through its iPad, iPhone and internet TV apps and its website.

While in its current beta, the outfit is offering 16 premium channels for free in Sweden. Live streams can be rewound over the air and, from Magine’s conventional linear EPG, viewers can scroll right back to call up catch-up shows up to a month old.

“We transcode all the channels in real-time, then put it through DRM and upload it in real-time to our cloud storage, and out through any CDN,” co-founder Mattias Hjelmsted tells paidContent. The system works on top of Amazon’s S3 hosting.

Although channels streamed through Magine can be slung to an Apple TV box through AirPlay, its pitch is that this is pay TV for an era in which the network and handheld devices have become powerful.

“You don’t really need a set-top box,” Hjelmsted said. Instead, broadband, WiFi and users’ existing devices can handle the strain, taking out plenty of box-related capex cost usually associated with a pay-TV provider.

Through its on-the-cloud mix of catch-up and live, the service also blends TV formats. “The user doesn’t really need to think about whether it’s live or VOD,” Hjelmsted said. “It’s a hybrid between the two.”

To its 3,000 beta users, Magine is currently offering free access to its paid TV bouquet. But, from Q1, the “beta” label will come off and the service plans to begin charging, just as a typical pay-TV provider does, though it will retain a free tier for conversion. “We speak with our users and the willingness to pay is very high,” Hjelmsted says. With channels like CNN International, whose owner Turner Broadcasting System stringently licenses only to paid-up licensees, he will need to be right.

The 35-strong company is helmed at CEO by Erik Wikström, an entrepreneur who previously founded part of the company that now comprises the big European digital marketing agency LBi and who later turned to investing in Asia.

The outfit funded itself until March, when it raised angel investment from friends, family and wealthy Nordic families.

While preparing for full launch at home, the outfit is also aiming to strike deals to operate in the UK and Germany, retaining former Channel 4 future media and technology head Jon Gisby to advise on UK opportunities.

If there is an opportunity for Magine to build an own-brand business, it may nevertheless be challenged to front up against big incumbent pay TV operators like BSkyB, Virgin Media and Sky Deutschland, which are each bringing their bouquets’ channels to similar apps and services and enjoy greater scale at consumer level.

But the TV product itself is simple and effortless to use, much like its Stockholm neighbour Spotify has done for music.

Magine recently hired one of Spotify’s first execs, Andreas Liffgarden, who helped broker the outfit’s important Telia Sonera carriage partnership, as its Sweden general manager. And Mattias Hjelmsted reckons Stockholm is still a great place in which to innovate.

“Why is Stockholm such a good base for technology?,” he asks. “It is a very helpful ecosystem where everyone helps each other to get things going. If you fail, there is a safety net to just pick up again.

“Also, we are in a country that’s not big enough only to create business ideas for Sweden, so you have to create products for international right from the start.”

  1. This is how i always though I P TV would work is there a hot link to the companies web site?

    Share
  2. great concept! How will it look on a 60″ HDTV though? good luck signing content deals in the US too, but maybe they dont want to come across the pond anyway…

    Share
    1. Looks just as good as normal…you should try it :)

      Share
  3. Hi, it’s at magine.com

    Share
    1. How can i get an account?

      Share
    2. Thanks this is what I’ve been waiting for.

      Share
  4. Interesting link on this founder through Google Translator (http://www.idg.se/2.1085/1.252932/vo…dare-hoppar-av): IT24 Today revealed that Voddler´s Founder Mattias Hjelmstedts former General Cinema Center has become the subject of a police report. It is because of lack of product deliveries and unpaid invoices.
    The article goes on to say that Mattias was then asked to leave Voddler…

    Share
  5. Great invention !!

    Share
  6. Great product!

    Share
  7. This sounds very interesting, if they can succeed in handeling the rights it could very well be the thing that finally gets us away from annoying setup boxes which i dont think anyone enjoys?

    Share
  8. I have tried the service and it’s really great! Hoping for more channels after the beta.

    Share
  9. IP TV is truly the future of traditional cable and satellite televisions as it provides a more interactive TV than before. Features like Live TV and Radio, Time Shifting, Messaging, Pay TV, Content Management and Video Management over IPTV and TV Portals have redefined the idea of watching TV. So, adding another feature to IPTV service would definitely add more value to its customers.

    Share
  10. This is great. I wish Magine good luck. In N.America the content rights make it quite a challenge for MVPDs to offer such services. Technology is the easy part (hint: at QuickPlay.com we already offer Network PVR with Live to VOD to our clients like SXM and our MVPD clients are testing it). I am excited to learn there are others executing well on this across the pond.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post