Anti-ca­ble cru­sader

Nu­vyyo CEO Grant Hall says his firm of­fers the per­fect so­lu­tion for Cana­di­ans who are ready to ‘cut the cord.’

Ottawa Business Journal - - Front Page - BY DAVID SALI

While Canada’s ma­jor ca­ble com­pa­nies were tak­ing heat over their $25 skinny ba­sic TV pack­ages at CRTC hear­ings last week, an Ot­tawa com­pany was step­ping up its ef­forts to pro­mote a lo­cal prod­uct that aims to make “cut­ting the cord” more at­trac­tive to con­sumers.

Nu­vyyo CEO Grant Hall says more and more Cana­di­ans are ditch­ing ca­ble be­cause they’re dis­sat­is­fied with poor cus­tomer ser­vice, es­ca­lat­ing costs and con­tracts that force them to re­ceive chan­nels they never watch.

“I think the trend is pretty wellestab­lished,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view with OBJ. “Peo­ple are vot­ing with their pock­et­books.”

With more peo­ple now get­ting their TV fix via on­line stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix and Crave TV, Mr. Hall be­lieves there’s a clear mar­ket op­por­tu­nity for his com­pany, which gives those con­sumers ac­cess to over-the-air con­tent such as lo­cal news and sports broad­casts.

The Kanata firm’s Tablo de­vice streams over-the-air broad­casts to TVs and other de­vices such as smart­phones and tablets. It also al­lows users to record pro­gram­ming and play it back later.

Nu­vyyo orig­i­nally launched the Tablo back in 2014. About 95 per cent of its sales are cur­rently in the United States, where the av­er­age house­hold re­ceives 42 over-the-air chan­nels, as op­posed to 15 in Ot­tawa, and stream­ing ser­vices have a big­ger mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion.

“Canada gen­er­ally fol­lows the trends in the U.S., so we see more over-the-top ser­vices com­ing,” Mr. Hall said. He is hop­ing to “ride on the coat­tails” of that trend by boost­ing Tablo’s mar­ket­ing ef­forts in this coun­try.

With year-over-year rev­enue growth of 270 per cent in 2015 and triple-digit gains ex­pected again this year, Nu­vyyo seems to have hit on the right for­mula for suc­cess. Mr. Hall said the firm leads its field right now, but he added it’s prob­a­bly just a mat­ter of time be­fore com­peti­tors emerge.

“I think that’s in­evitable,” he said. “They tell you in busi­ness school if there are no com­peti­tors in your mar­ket, you’re prob­a­bly not in the right mar­ket. We think we’ve got a pretty sub­stan­tial lead in the mar­ket, and, re­ally, the chal­lenge here is de­vel­op­ing great ap­pli­ca­tions across pretty much ev­ery de­vice a con­sumer may own.”

The other chal­lenge, Mr. Hall said, is con­vinc­ing con­sumers that over-the-air sig­nals – which have been broad­cast in dig­i­tal high def­i­ni­tion in Canada since 2011 – are just as clear as those on ca­ble or satel­lite. He said over-the-air HD sig­nals are usu­ally crisper be­cause ca­ble and satel­lite sig­nals of­ten have to be com­pressed due to the huge vol­ume of chan­nels.

“You can put a pair of rab­bit ears up and get an ex­cel­lent sig­nal now,” he said. “Our big­gest chal­lenge is re­ally ed­u­cat­ing the mar­ket.”

Founded in 2010 with $4 mil­lion in fund­ing from Celtic House Ven­ture Part­ners, Nu­vyyo now has 18 full-time em­ploy­ees, all but one in the cap­i­tal. The Tablo was de­signed by an­other Ot­tawa firm, Va­ly­date, and is man­u­fac­tured lo­cally by Lloyd Dou­glas So­lu­tions.

“It’s truly an Ot­tawa prod­uct,” Mr. Hall said.

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