There is no shortage of hardware devices looking to change the way people watch TV. But most of those devices serve to stream services like Netflix or Hulu into people’s living rooms. In that respect, Simple.TV is a bit of an outlier, as it performs all the usual functions as a DVR, but it can then stream video that it captures to other devices. Well, the Simple.TV team has even broader ambitions than just that one box, and the team has raised $5.7 million to realize them.
The Simple.TV box was pitched mostly as a way for cord cutters to record programming that comes off of HD antennas, and to later stream those recordings to a wide range of connected devices. After connecting storage to their Simple.TV boxes, users could use the device to record individual episodes or full seasons of their favorite shows, then watch them on apps for iOS, Android, and Roku devices. In that respect, it was kind of like a combination TiVo-plus-Slingbox in one.*
Last May, Simple.TV introduced its first hardware device as part of a Kickstarter campaign. The company raised nearly double its original $125,000 goal, selling more than 1,000 devices as part of its first run. Later in the fall, the company shipped devices to consumers who backed the campaign, and also put the DVR boxes on sale to the general public, at $149 a piece.
But the company has broader ambitions than just being a hardware manufacturer with some cool software attached. The Simple.TV set ups has a sleek programming guide to help users find, access, and record their favorite programs, and that will be a key part of what seems like a new direction for the company.
According to founder and CEO Mark Ely, Simple.TV is looking to find ways to take its discovery and access platform and expand beyond just broadcast content through a digital antenna. It’s also looking to include cable content and over-the-top content from services like Netflix and Hulu as part of a broader consumer-facing opportunity.
In addition to more content, Simple.TV is also looking for ways to get on more devices. While it currently has apps on iOS, Android, and Roku for streaming back pre-recorded content, Ely says the company sees an opportunity to work with third-party CE manufacturers. So you won’t have to have a Simple.TV device to use the Simple.TV apps on these new devices.
With that in mind, the Simple.TV guys are also ready to move beyond bootstrapping, and the company has confirmed a $5.7 million funding round detailed in this SEC filing. The funding round was led by New World Ventures, with NWV partner Matt McCall joining Simple.TV’s board of directors. Also listed on the filing are Simple.TV CEO Mark Ely and CTO Bruce Randall, along with Accanto Partners founding partner Robert Doris. Doris worked with the Simple.TV founders at Sonic Solutions, which was acquired by Rovi back in late 2010.
We’ve reached out to Simple.TV to learn more about the funding and will update when we hear back.
* It’s probably worth noting that TiVo has released the $129 TiVo Stream to enable users to watch things they’ve recorded or are recording, and to download shows to their devices. That is, provided that the mobile device, TiVo, and TiVo stream are all on the same home network.