Highlight Cuba-backed streaming app Open firethat now offers podcasters and other creators a way to host interactive, live shows with audience involvement, will soon be extended to the big screen TV. Variety reported, and Fireside confirmed, that it has acquired the open streaming TV platform Stremiumallowing Fireside’s shows to become available for a range of connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, smart TVs and others.
Deal terms have not been disclosed. Cuban retweeted Variety’s reporting, but made no other public comment.
A company spokesperson confirmed the deal to australiabusinessblog.com, noting that it was a combination of IP and talent.
“Fireside has acquired all of Stremium, including the entire team and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said. “The company is the first web3 interactive streaming platform and the acquisition will help Fireside accelerate as the only platform transforming creators, celebrities, brands and IP owners into the studio, networks and streaming services of the future. Expect other major announcements on this front soon,” they added.
Launched just over a year ago, Fireside came on the heels of pandemic-fueled demand for live entertainment startups, as well as a growing number of startups targeting the creator economy.
Despite some early — and erroneous — comparisons between Fireside and other live audio platforms like Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, the startup gained traction thanks to a differentiated feature set that also prioritizes video content. Shows on the Fireside platform can be streamed live to the app, recorded, saved, or even simulcasted to other social networks. The app also includes audience engagement tools and other features to help creators promote, edit, measure, distribute, monetize, and grow audiences, all of which are part of Fireside’s end-to-end content production experience. More recently, the company had been exploring web3 technologies, including NFTs.
Co-founded by Cuban, early Yammer employee Mike Ihbeand former co-founder of Googler, YouTuber, and Node Falon Fatemiwhich sold its last company to SugarCRM, Fireside has attracted a number of high-profile creators over the past year, including Jay Leno, Michael Dell, Melissa Rivers, Craig Kilborn, and screenwriter and Entourage creator Doug Ellin.
In a letter to Fireside investors published by VarietyFatemi said the acquisition of Stremium Fireside would help deliver a “second screen experience where audiences can use their phones to participate and interact in real time while watching on their TV.”
“Imagine watching a live cooking show with your favorite chef on your TV and phone at the same time, where you can interact and be invited to talk to them directly and even show them what you’re cooking from the palm of your hand,” explains Fatemi. In addition, Stremium’s infrastructure would allow creators to upload, publish, schedule and distribute their live shows via both mobile and TV, she added. (Stremium has confirmed to us the accuracy of the letter.)
australiabusinessblog.com reported in February that Fireside was in talks to raise a $25 million Series A that valued its company at $125 million. That round has since Closed, but Fireside has not yet made a formal announcement about an increase, investors or its valuation. We understand this may be because Fireside is still adding some additional strategic investors to the deal, and plans 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 the Chainsmokers, HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital and NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum and former NBA star Baron Davis, in addition to Cuban. Prior to Series A, Fireside had raised approximately $8 million.
Stremium had developed a service that allowed consumers to collect all their favorite channels using theirTelevision Everywherecredentials and use a cloud DVR instead of downloading separate streaming apps. It also featured a selection of free streaming channels. But the service faced an increasingly competitive landscape where there are now countless ways to watch streaming content for free, such as Tubi, Pluto TV, The Roku Chanel, Freevee (formerly IMDb TV), Plex, and more. Meanwhile, cable-cutting is accelerating, leaving fewer people with cable TV signups for Stremium to market its services.
The Stremium website is now directing visitors to Fireside and confirming the acquisition. Fireside is aiming to release its TV product sometime next year as a result of the deal.