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Qello Strikes Deals With Nokia, Vubiquity As It Aims to Grow B2B Biz (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 4/21/2017 Janko Roettgers
© Provided by Variety

Concert video startup Qello is getting ready to stream more than just Springsteen: The Los Angeles-based company has struck partnerships with Nokia and Vubiquity that are part of a larger effort to move up the value chain and build out its B2B business.

The partnership with Nokia will allow filmmakers using Nokia’s Ozo camera to monetize their virtual reality films through advertising, subscription and pay-per-view models. “Enabling a powerful monetization engine for OZO content creators is an important part of the larger ecosystem and will help validate the premium VR experience,” said Nokia’s head of VR technologies Tarif Sayed in a statement.

Vubiquity, which helps content producers to get bring their programming to online video vendors, has teamed up with Qello to specifically target cable and telco operators outside of the United States that may not have the technical chops to build their own authenticated services or online skinny bundles. “Carriers and operators around the world are going to be able to open up their businesses in ways they hadn’t before to remain competitive,” said Vubiquity CEO Darcy Antonellis.

Qello was founded in 2008 as a platform for concert videos, and is offering consumers access to full-length concerts and music documentaries from major artists for $7.99 a month. The company built out its own streaming infrastructure and apps for mobile and connected devices, and over time got inquiries from other companies looking to enter the streaming space as well.

At the moment, Qello has only a handful of such white-label customers, which include Acorn TV, the video subscription service for British TV fare. The company’s Chairman Gary Winnick, who is best known as the founder and former chairman of early internet infrastructure company Global Crossing, acquired a majority stake in the company earlier this year, and is now looking to have it expand its B2B efforts.

The ultimate goal is to establish Qello as a video platform and services provider for other publishers, explained Winnick during a recent conversation with Variety. “We consider ourselves to be a white-label solution.”

It’s a business that’s not without competition, which includes some companies with a very similar evolution. BAMTech started out as the streaming operations arm of Major League Baseball, only to be spun out — along with a $1 billion investment from Disney — and power streaming services like HBO Now, the NHL and the WWE Network. And DramaFever, the Korean drama subscription service that is owned by Warner Bros., has built apps for streaming services like Shudder and SundanceNow.

“Qello is a small company in the realm of big companies,” admitted Winnick. However, he argued that his team may be able to undercut bigger players, and outsmart them with innovation efforts incubated in a new R&D unit dubbed QLabs.

At the same time, Winnick wants to keep Qello’s concert video service up and running, and even expand it to new audiences. “Music is an important component of the company,” said Winnick.

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