Today, Fireside, a Cuban-backed brand application that offers podcasters and other creators a way to host interactive live shows with audience participation, will soon expand to the TV big screen. Variety reports, and Fireside confirms, that it has acquired open streaming TV platform Stremium, which will make Fireside’s shows available to a variety of connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, smart TVs and more.
The contract was not disclosed. Cuban Retweeted The diversity report, however, did not provide any other public comment.
A company spokesperson confirmed the deal to TechCrunch, noting that it is a combination of IP and talent.
“Fireside has acquired all of Stremium, including its entire team and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said. “The company is the first interactive Web 3 streaming platform and the acquisition will help Fireside accelerate its offering as the only platform that turns creators, celebrities, brands and IP owners into studios, networks and streaming services. Expect other major announcements on this front soon. He said.
Launched a year ago, Fireside has seen a surge in startups fueled by the pandemic and the number of startups supporting live entertainment and the creative economy.
Despite some early – and misguided – comparisons between Fireside and live audio platforms such as Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, the startup has gained a lot of attention due to its unique nature of prioritizing video and audio content. Scenes on the Fireside platform can be streamed directly to the app, recorded, saved or broadcast 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 part of Fireside’s end-to-end content production experience. More recently, the company has been exploring Web3 technologies, including NFTs.
In Cuba, Fireside has attracted high-profile figures such as Jay Leno, Michael Dell, former Yammer employee Mike Ehbe, and former Google, YouTube and Node founder Fallon Fatemi, who sold her last company to SugarCRM. Melissa Rivers, Craig Kilbourne, and screenwriter and co-creator Doug Eileen last year.
In a letter to Fireside investors published by Variety, it said the Stromium acquisition will help Fireside provide “a second screen experience where viewers can use their phones to engage and interact in real-time while watching on their TVs.”
“Imagine watching a live show with your favorite chef on your TV and phone at the same time and being able to talk to them and show them what they’re cooking from the palm of your hand,” explains Fatemi. In addition, Stremium’s infrastructure enables creators to upload, publish, host and broadcast their live shows on mobile and TV, she added. (Stremium has confirmed the authenticity of the letter.)
TechCrunch reported in February that Fireside was in talks to raise a $25 million Series A that would value the business at $125 million. That round has since closed, but Fireside has yet to make an official announcement about the raise, investors or valuation. This is likely because Fireside is still adding some more strategic investors to the deal and plans to provide details on the fundraising soon. Of course, the money may have helped pave the way for this new acquisition for Fireside.
In addition to Cuban, other investors in Fireside include Chainsmokers, HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital and NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum and former NBA star Baron Davis. Prior to its Series A round, Fireside had raised around $8 million.
Stremium was rolling out a service that would allow consumers to stream all their favorite channels using their “TV Everywhere” ID and use a cloud DVR instead of downloading separate streaming apps. It also includes a selection of free-to-air channels. But the service faces an increasingly competitive landscape, where there are many ways to watch free streaming content, such as Tubi, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Freevi (formerly IMDb TV), Plex, and more. Meanwhile, cord-cutting is accelerating as fewer people with cable TV access to Stremium are marketing the service.
The Stremium website is now pointing visitors to Fireside and confirming the purchase. Fireside plans to release its TV production next year as a result of the deal.