The Mark Cuban-backed streaming app Fireside, which today offers podcasters and other creators a way to host interactive live shows with audience engagement, will soon expand to big-screen TV. Variety reported, and Fireside confirmed, that it has acquired open TV streaming platform Stremium, which will allow Fireside shows to become available on a range of connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, smart TVs and more.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cuban retweeted The Variety report but made no other public comments.
A company spokesperson confirmed the deal to TechCrunch, noting that it was a combination of intellectual property and talent.
“Fireside has acquired all of Stremium, including its entire team and intellectual property,” the spokesman said. “The company is the first interactive web3 streaming platform and the acquisition will help Fireside accelerate the realization of being the only platform transforming creators, celebrities, brands and IP owners in the studio, networks and streaming services of the future. Expect more major announcements to come on this front,” he added.
Launching just over a year ago, Fireside came on the heels of pandemic-fueled demand for startups offering live entertainment and a growing number of startups catering to the creator economy.
Despite some early – and incorrect – comparisons between Fireside and other live audio platforms like Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, the startup has gained traction thanks to a differentiated feature set that also prioritizes video content. Shows on Fireside’s platform can be streamed live on its app, recorded, saved, or even simulcast to other social networks. The app also includes audience engagement tools and other features to help creators with promotion, editing, measurement, distribution, monetization and audience growth, all of which are part of the end-to-end Fireside content production experience . More recently, the company has explored Web3 technologies, including NFTs.
Co-founded by Cuban Mike Ihbe, one of Yammer’s first employees, and former Googler, YouTuber, and Node Falon co-founder Fatemi, who sold his latest company to SugarCRM, Fireside has managed to attract some high-end creators. profile like Jay Leno, Michael Dell, Melissa Rivers, Craig Kilborn and Entourage writer and creator Doug Ellin over the past year.
In a letter to Fireside investors published by Variety, Fatemi shared that the Stremium acquisition would help Fireside deliver “a second-screen experience where audiences can use their phones to engage and interact in real time while watching TV”.
“Imagine watching a live cooking show with your favorite chef on your TV and phone simultaneously where you can interact and be invited to speak directly with them and even show them what you are cooking from the palm of your hand,” he explained Make me. Additionally, Stremium’s infrastructure would allow creators to upload, publish, schedule and distribute their shows live on both mobile devices and TVs, she added. (Stremium has confirmed the accuracy of the letter.)
TechCrunch this February reported that Fireside was in talks to raise a $25 million Series A that values its business at $125 million. That round has since closed, but Fireside has yet to make a formal announcement on the raise, investors or its valuation. We understand this may be because Fireside is still adding more strategic investors to the deal and expects to detail the fundraising soon. Of course, the funding may have helped pave the way for Fireside to make this new acquisition.
Other investors in Fireside include Chainsmokers, HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital and NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum and former NBA star Baron Davis, as well as Cuban. Prior to its Series A, Fireside had raised around $8 million.
Stremium had developed a service that allowed consumers to aggregate all their favorite channels using their “TV Everywhere” credentials and use a cloud DVR instead of downloading separate streaming apps. It also included a selection of free streaming channels. But the service has faced an increasingly competitive landscape where there are now numerous ways to watch free streaming content, such as Tubi, Pluto TV, The Roku Chanel, Freevee (formerly IMDb TV), Plex, and more. Meanwhile, cable cutting is accelerating, leaving fewer people with access to cable TV for Stremium to market its services to.
The Stremium website now directs visitors to Fireside and confirms the takeover. Fireside is aiming to release its TV product next year as a result of the deal.