Startup KlowdTV Wades Into Crowded Latino Internet TV Market
While DirecTV and DISH have both leveraged their established pay-TV businesses to launch OTT (over-the-top) Internet streaming TV aimed at Latino audiences earlier this year, one year-old startup KlowdTV has decided to enter the fray by adding an assortment of 29 Spanish-language channels to its micro-bundle Internet TV selection.
KlowdTV's Model: Closer to Cord-Cutters' Dreams
As opposed to the most well-known OTT streaming TV options to hit the market, like DISH's Sling TV and Sling Latino, or DirecTV's YaVeo, streaming TV startup KlowdTV offers an a la carte selection of tiny channel bundles for a similarly diminutive price. It offers genre-based package of six to 10 channels that costs as little as $3 dollars per month, with the first package costing $5 per month.
In contrast, Sling TV requires a $20 per month subscription to its "Best of Live TV" package before you can add individual channels like HBO or add-on packages like the "Best of Spanish TV" or "Deportes Extra" for an additional monthly fee.
YaVeo, which was the first official OTT subscription service in the U.S. and also the first big one to crumble was aimed entirely at Latinos, but required a relatively hefty fee for its couple-dozen package of networks. Sling Latino, launched in the summer, removed Sling TV's required $20 per month English-dominant basic bundle for a smaller Spanish-language bundle, but still at $12 per month.
While KlowdTV works on most platforms and offers HD streaming like its bigger competitors, the company offers some perks that you can't find with services like Sling TV, like cloud-based DVR service.
So in many ways, KlowdTV's model is closer than the satellite-backed Internet TV companies to fulfilling the true promise of OTT streaming television: "Cutting the cord" and doing away with most of the restrictions, and the required big channel bundles (that you never watch), which have long been endemic to pay-TV subscription models -- and which persist, to a smaller degree, in streaming TV services offered by pay-TV companies.
A La Carte: Only Tempting With Good Networks
But when it comes to Internet TV, a la carte freedom only matters if you can get the channels you want. And that fundamental principle is KlowdTV's Achilles heel, both in its mainstream selections and new Spanish-language offerings.
For example, as Fierce Cable noted this summer when KlowdTV announced a news channel package, the price and smaller bundles look good to customers, if you don't notice what's missing.
KlowdTV's news channel included Bloomberg HD, offered by Sling TV, but the only other channels available were Sky News International, Newsmax, One America News, France 24, and RT America. What's missing? Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.
Even picking up one of those three would make KlowdTV's David much more competitive, at least with news junkies, against the (relatively) Goliath Sling TV.
The same problem arises for other micro-bundles offered by KlowdTV, like the $3.50 per month sports package. It includes a half-dozen smaller and single-sport specialist networks, but no ESPN.
Can KlowdTV Compete in Latino Streaming TV?
And the same problem presents itself with the 29 new networks KlowdTV has added to attract Spanish-language audiences. In fact, the dearth of high-quality channels is implicit in the excitement KlowdTV founder Bill O'Hara expressed in announcing one particular new addition in a release to Latin Post.
"We're thrilled to roll out these amazing channels and to bring cord-cutting to the Spanish-speaking community, which until now has been underserved in this area," O'Hara said. "And to have our first Nielsen-rated broadcaster in Azteca America is incredibly exciting and a great validation of our vision for high quality TV options for cord-cutters."
Here are the additional Spanish-language channels available, through various small, low-cost bundles: Canal Tro, Stereo | Siempre + Musica, Tele VID, Telemedellin, Zoom, A Tres Series, Antena 3, Canal Americ, Canal Antiestres, Hola TV, MIS Movies, RT Español, SupereÑe, Tele Romantica, Trendy, AZ Cinema, AZ Clic, AZ Corazón, Canal 44, Canal 52MX, CB TV MICHOACAN, Promovision, TeleFórmula, TVC Latino, VideoRola, AYM SPORTS, LAS LATIN AMERICAN SPORTS and PXTV HD.
Of course conspicuously absent from the list are Telemundo and Univision, or any of its affiliates. Without either of those cornerstones, it's hard to build an audience.
Not that any of this is KlowdTV's fault. Even in the liberated age of Internet TV, services backed by the big pay-TV players -- with pre-established access to the negotiating table for big networks -- have a huge advantage.
That may change if the FCC decides to reclassify OTT services so they literally are allowed to negotiate deals with networks on the same playing field as pay-TV companies currently enjoy. But new regulatory definitions also inevitably carry regulations that could hurt scrappy independent startups like KlowdTV, or put them out of business.
One thing is clear: The evolution of TV from the giant high-priced pay-TV bundle to low-cost and more-choice Internet TV is still just beginning. And Latino audiences are at the center of it.
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