North American TV fans fed up with high-priced cable bundles can look with longing to Europe, where Sweden-based Magine is offering dozens of channels, including sports and CNN, for around $14 a month — streamed directly to TV and mobile devices. Now the company is flush with cash from a new $19 million investment, and is set to open in several big European countries.
Like Brooklyn-based Aereo, which is giving U.S. broadcasters legal fits, Magine offers a way to get TV without the nuisance of cables and set-top boxes. Instead, the company relies on cloud-based computing to stream shows to iOS devices and Samsung TV’s (service to a full range of devices is expected soon). It looks like this:
The key difference between Aereo and Magine is that the Swedish company has licenses from over-the-air broadcast partners, whereas Aereo is relying on a legal loophole in copyright law. Also, Magine has a number of cable partners that include CNN, Discovery, Eurosport and Cartoon Network; for now, Aereo’s only official partner is Bloomberg TV.
According to Magine executive, Mahesh Kumar, the service will be live in Spain and Germany “very soon” but has no immediate plans to expand to North America but that:
“We feel proving the model in Europe by adding money to the value chain (of which studios are mostly American), would give us a strong case.”
Given the power in the U.S. of what media writer Peter Kafka calls the “TV industrial complex,” it’s unlikely that Magine or Aereo will be able to get access to premium content anytime soon — especially as American studios are now in a dance with Apple; the terms of the deal will reportedly only make shows available on Apple TV to existing cable subscribers (ie Big TV wins again).
Kumar added that the new $19M Series A investment, which came from Swedish and international investors, put Magine in a solid position to scale because the company doesn’t incur the same type of capital expenditures (boxes, wires and so on) as traditional cable companies.