CEO Interview: Vibble TV Aims to be a Virtual Cable Company

By Joan Engebretson April 25, 2012

An announcement earlier this month from Internet Broadcasting Corp., developer of an Internet-delivered video offering called Vibble TV, received relatively little media attention—perhaps because many people didn’t realize the extent of IBC’s ambitions.

The announcement focused on a niche offering – a subscription television service targeting the South Asian community in the U.S. But as IBC CEO Suresh Kadagala told me on a phone call this week, that offering is just the beginning.

“Our goal is to be a cable provider for the U.S. mainstream,” said Kadagala. But rather than delivering its lineup over traditional cable infrastructure, IBC plans to piggyback on customers’ existing broadband Internet connections.

Within a few weeks, IBC plans to launch its first subscription service, which will include at least 60 channels, including material from Indian television content provider ZEE TV and more than 500 Bollywood movies on demand. The company’s next step will be to add services targeting other ethnic groups, including Latin Americans.

IBC’s hope is that after several of these offerings have been available for some time, the company will have a sufficient subscriber base to negotiate reasonable deals for more mainstream content. Kadagala said the company already has negotiated deals with some local broadcast channels and national cable channels, but he added that “we want to release these in an orderly fashion.” The company wants to have a consistent lineup from one market to the next, he said.

The advent of Internet delivery of broadcast programming has raised issues about end users’ ability to view local channels from outside their own market. For example, Aereo filters customers by email address to ensure that only those residing in New York City can receive the local New York channels that the company delivers via an Internet-connected antenna. Kadagala said IBC’s offering can support that approach or can make local channels more widely available. How the company will treat an individual channel will depend on its agreement with each local broadcaster, he said.

IBC plans to use the brand Vibble TV for all of its offerings, which will be delivered out of a main head-end in Maryland and daisy-chained head-ends in different parts of the country. Customers can use any Internet-connected TV to view Vibble TV programming or if needed, IBC will provide an Internet set-top box at no charge.

Vibble’s infrastructure ultimately could support advertising targeted to local markets, but Kadagala does not expect advertising to be a substantial revenue stream until the service builds up its subscriber base. IBC will be promoting its offerings through a range of media, as well as ethnic product distributors and at community gatherings.

“We will try a lot of different things,” said IBC CFO Neeraj Vohra.

Although services haven’t launched yet, IBC already has some customers signed up for the South Asian-focused content offering, as well as its Latin American-focused offering. Kadagala noted that there a million South Asian households in the U.S. and that the market is “big enough to be profitable.”

He added, however, that, “Our goal is not just to be profitable in a small thing. Our goal is to be one of the dominant players.”

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing Editor

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