YipTV - linear OTT/virtual MVPDs - online video startups - Fierce 15 2015

Where it's based: West Palm Beach, Fla.
When it was founded: 2012
Website: www.yiptv.com

Why it's Fierce: The linear OTT industry segment may soon be dominated by big-name players--Dish Network, with its Sling TV service; Sony, with PlayStation Vue; and, perhaps soon, Apple TV. That means startups hoping to reach an audience with linear over-the-top services need to niche themselves. YipTV has done this with its linear streaming service, launched in May, that focuses on multilingual, multicultural viewers in the U.S. market.

But what sets YipTV apart from other multicultural streaming content providers is its founding team's depth of knowledge: The company's leadership includes executives from Vonage, Telecom Italia and other telecom and technology giants.

That's a solid knowledge base to build from, and YipTV has so far leveraged that combined experience into a successful launch of its $15-per-month service, which premiered with 50 live, licensed TV channels from broadcasters around the world. The company's package includes popular networks like BeIn Sports, Telesur, NTN24, Canal, TV Chile, Bolivia TV, TeleCaribe and TelePacifico, among others.

CEO Michael Tribolet told FierceOnlineVideo that the linear service was about three years in the making, though he had kicked the idea around for nearly a decade with his wife and business partner Carmen Tribolet, co-founder and executive vice president of YipTV. The company kicked off development with a $950,000 seed round in 2013, adding $3 million in funding at the end of 2014.

YipTV built its platform to be app-based, scalable and provide a high quality of service. And it is working to provide multicultural U.S. residents an easy way to access their favorite shows from their home countries.

Of course, YipTV faces challenges. For example, Sling TV recently added four Latino-focused channel packages to its offering with international networks like Univision.

"In this country they try to make the Hispanic market a one-size-fits-all, and it really isn't. We learned that from our VoIP business," Tribolet said. The various countries are "all over the board" in terms of cultural differences, dialects and relationships. Because of that, U.S.-based viewers from different Hispanic cultures are often "penalized" when it comes to viewing content--they either must search exhaustively for the shows they want to watch, or pay extra for channels via pay-TV operators or OTT providers. "Our service relates more to them and is tailored to them, all-inclusive in one [subscriber] package," he said.

What's next: YipTV has plans to add more channels every two weeks, or as its license deals allow. It's also looking into streaming 4K content at some point.

The company just signed soccer legend Pele for an exclusive gig as its "brand ambassador," with the aim of making him the face of YipTV to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking consumers in the U.S.

"We're on the forefront of that corner that we're going to turn," Tribolet said. "It's going to be tough because of the cannibalization [of TV]. The never-corders of the Hispanic community… many have been alienated and feel dissatisfied." YipTV is looking to attract this typically younger audience of Hispanics, and is relying on its subscribers' feedback to refine its offering even further.

"We're going to learn a lot from them, all of our customers, and tailor the system to them," Tribolet said.

YipTV - linear OTT/virtual MVPDs - online video startups - Fierce 15 2015