Deeper Dive—What is VivaLiveTV and what does it have to do with Comcast?

VivaLiveTV has new agreement to work on content, logistical and other technological services with Comcast. (Viva Entertainment)

Viva Entertainment runs a small streaming TV service called VivaLiveTV but the company could be moving up to the big leagues after apparently signing an agreement with Comcast.

In late November, Viva Entertainment disclosed in an SEC filing that it was teaming up with Comcast and that its Vivalivetv system would begin working on content, logistical and other technological services provided solely by Comcast. The partnership is scheduled to kick off in January 2019, and Viva Entertainment said it’s “extremely excited and honored” to be affiliated with the largest cable television operator in the U.S.

“Comcast’s open mind has added an element of excitement to the Viva family,” the filing said, adding that a joint press release will be available by both parties in the near future.

Viva Entertainment later issued a separate filing clarifying that its working with Comcast Technology Solutions, Comcast’s division focused on content delivery and ad tech. Viva said the CTS partnership will “help enhance our subscriber base in order to create more revenue.”

As Light Reading’s Jeff Baumgartner pointed out, CTS handles white label syndication of Comcast’s X1 platform so the Viva partnership could have something to do with that. But so far, Comcast’s X1 deals have been with larger, traditional distributors like Cox, Rogers and Shaw.

Comcast has not responded to multiple requests for comment on its partnership with VivaLiveTV. But we were able to get Viva Chairman and CEO Johnny Falcones on the phone.

Falcones declined to give many details about the partnership and said that Comcast would offer up more information later. But he did say that Comcast approached them and that the company had been watching Viva for more than a year, notice which Falcones credited to VivaLiveTV’s billboard in New York City.

VivaLiveTV has been up and running for about one year. Right now, Viva offers a streaming package called Viva Gold, which charges $34.95 per month for access to 150 live streaming channels including major broadcast networks and cable channels including ESPN, CNN and Nickelodeon.

The company apparently offers these channels through a deal with Omniverse One World Television, a company that also has deals with other lesser known streaming TV services including SkyStream, TikiLive TV, NKT.TV, ExchangeVue, Flixon TV and Milo TV.

TechHive did some digging on Omniverse earlier this year and discovered that the company acquired internet distribution rights for many channels through an old cable contract. That unusual arrangement means that services using Omniverse for distribution have to deal with broadcast signals originating from New York and other idiosyncrasies like time zone restrictions and limited VOD access.

Falcones said that VivaLiveTV could be moving up from Omniverse by inking its partnership with Comcast.

“It’s like moving houses. We’re going from a small house to a mansion,” Falcones said, adding that if Comcast wants VivaLiveTV to ditch its Omniverse deal, “then that’s what we’ll do.”

“We’re moving to bigger and better things. We’re working on increasing our subscriber base and revenues,” Falcones said.

Indeed, VivaLiveTV has recently made some announcements around bolstering its streaming TV service. The company set a deal with Sony Pictures to add the company’s movie channels to its Gold lineup, while Cine Sony will be added to Viva’s Spanish-language add-on.

VivaLiveTV also recently added DVR service, which the company just turned on today and is offering to its subscribers at no additional cost.

Those moves could just be the beginning. Falcones said that through VivaLiveTV’s partnership with Comcast it will be adding channels including NBC Sports networks and local broadcast channels, while eliminating some channels that Viva doesn’t need. Falcones said the idea is to improve VivaLiveTV’s lineup and make it more relevant on an individual market basis, something most major virtual MVPDs do through local affiliate broadcast television deals.

Even major vMVPDs like DirecTV Now and Sling TV have a hard time making lots of money, but VivaLiveTV has a lot of work to do just to break even. According to a 10-Q filed in October, Viva generated just $8,470 in subscription revenues for the three months ending July 31, 2018, while racking up $1,422,508 in total operating expenses. Overall, the company is carrying accumulated deficit totaling more than $26.5 million.

But teaming with Comcast could put Viva on a more solvent path. We’ll find out more in 2019.