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College multi-screen startup Tivli raises $6.3M

Thu, 07/11/2013 - 1:02pm
Brian Santo

A startup TV service founded specifically to provide multi-screen delivery of video on college campuses just picked up $6.3 million in investments from a coalition of investors that include HBO and Mark Cuban.

The roster of investors in Tivli beyond HBO and Cuban’s Radical Investments, include New Enterprise Associates (NEA), which led the Series A funding round, Felicis Ventures, Rho Ventures, CBC New Media Group, and WME.

Tivli takes a live feed from a satellite or cable distributor (MVPD), or original university video, and encodes it to provide unicast streams to student devices on high-speed university data networks. The company claims its system’s unicast technology is unique in its ability to allow for seamless IPTV over a wireless network. The system can stream live, time-shifted and on-demand TV content.

Tivli has its own interface, built-in guide and DVR, and is rolling out integration with TV Everywhere and on-demand products like HBO GO, interactive content and social media integration.

After its initial launch at Harvard, Tivli is now available on the campuses of Yale, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, and Wesleyan University, among other universities.

Christopher Thorpe, Tivli CEO, said, “Tivli also provides an innovative service to the universities with cost-effective, secure video distribution over their existing data networks.”

"Tivli was one of the very first companies we met on campus as part of the exceptional community of talent we've built with the Experiment Fund at Harvard," said Patrick Chung, Partner, NEA. "Tivli's vision got us very excited: to bring 'social TV 3.0' to the college campuses most ripe to recognize, and to run with, new active viewing possibilities. Television is still the world's most powerful medium – and it has been a static, unilateral broadcast experience on college campuses for too long. Tivli's going to change that."

“For us, Tivli is about reaching the next generation of viewers on every kind of television,” says James F. Goodmon, Jr., Capitol Broadcasting Co.’s (CBC) vice president of new media. “Students are forming new types of viewing habits and it is important for local broadcasters to be in the mix. Tivli has a smart and talented team with a strong commitment to user experience and content rights.”

“I’m excited to be part of Tivli and think they are the future of entertainment on college campuses,” said Mark Cuban, CEO of Radical Investments. “Tivli is a great complement for AXS TV and my other entertainment investments.”

The company had its genesis in a hack performed by Harvard undergrads Nicholas Krasney and Ho Tuan. The two wrote a program to stream live TV straight to their computers. Within Tivli’s first pilot year at Harvard, almost half the student body used the service to watch television right from their computers at the same time, according to the company.

Tivli was incubated by Harvard Student Agencies, the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, Summer at Highland, Fresh Pond Partners, and the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab). The company's seed investors included NEA, Flybridge Capital Partners, the Experiment Fund, Felicis Ventures and TriplePoint Capital.

The company said the funds will be used to fuel its expansion in the university market and other operational and strategic initiatives.

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