Where it's based: Redmond, Wash.
When it was founded: 2010
Why it's Fierce: With a founding team made up of veteran EPG (electronic program guide) developers, WebTuner might, just might, solve the integrated program guide conundrum.
WebTuner's platform has two main parts: a set-top/DVR device small enough to plug into a wall socket, and its Android-based electronic program guide, which integrates listings from several content sources, including live TV, streaming video and more.
"[The EPG] consists of must-have features: search, integrated search with live TV, VOD, SVOD," said WebTuner CTO and co-founder Eduard Zaslavsky in an interview with FierceOnlineVideo. The EPG's user interface also includes avatar-based profiles for multiple users. Unlike TiVo's hybrid set-top boxes, WebTuner was designed from the beginning to "support all types of content," he said.
Building a platform that can integrate linear signals, OTT video and other sources--and make the content available on each easier to find--is a driving goal of WebTuner.
"People are shutting down TV because they're getting frustrated. The new generation specifically, this is their level of patience. If they can't find it in 20 seconds they turn the TV off," Zaslavsky said. "But at the other extreme, some EPG developers are creating very complicated UIs. Animation, a lot of information on the screen. It's important not to go too far in the other direction."
WebTuner hopes to make most of its money by licensing its platform, Zaslavsky said, with the set-top device taking less priority. The company has raised $11.1 million in two funding rounds so far.
What's next: WebTuner's development plan is an ambitious one: Beyond aggregating content sources into a single interface, Zaslavsky said the company's device will ultimately support home automation services, making it not just an entertainment system but a whole-home platform.
After several months in stealth mode, the company launched during the NAB trade show, showcasing its ALI Corp. chipset-powered STB and program guide at the event. WebTuner is now in the process of acquiring operator customers.