Philo leads traditional TV toward campus cord-cutters, and maybe OTT's future

What will linear TV of the future look like? With millennials' ambivalence when it comes to buying pay-TV bundles, traditional cable and satellite operators are struggling to find a middle ground to attract a younger generation. They may find that perfect medium on college campuses, where increasingly, operators like Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have begun to offer over-the-top streaming packages.

Enter Philo (previously known as Tivli), a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup that acts as a sort of middleman in this process. The company partners with existing providers like Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) and Comcast in specific markets and--using hardware deployed either on the campus being served or at the operator's nearest headend--converts the cable signal to IP video.

Now Philo is getting much more attention: It pulled in $10 million in Series B funding from investors including HBO, CBC New Media Group, Rho Ventures, XFUND and its new CEO, Andrew McCollum. Philo executives are now mulling a move from the East Coast to Silicon Valley this year.

The service, started by a couple of Harvard students, has operated quietly for the past four years. McCollum, one of Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) founding members, came aboard as CEO of Philo in November 2014.

Philo ostensibly allows pay-TV operators to provide TV Everywhere services without requiring a pay-TV subscription. Students at the 22 campuses that currently offer Philo-enabled streaming service need just a campus e-mail address and access to the school's Internet to begin watching linear and on-demand television from any streaming-capable device.

For McCollum, the issue with OTT is not that millennials aren't watching TV: They still want entertainment, but they want it their way.

"There are still 100 million pay TV subscribers," McCollum told TechCrunch. "That content is still incredibly compelling and it's certainly the bulk of what people are watching."

For more:
- TechCrunch has this story

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