Tablo parent company secures new venture funding, eyes expansion

Nuvyyo grabbed $6 million in Series B funding. Now it's considering a possible expansion into Mexico and Europe.
Retail boxes for the Tablo Dual Lite and the Tablo Quad. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk)

The parent company of the Tablo line of over-the-air digital video recorders (DVRs) says the majority of its customers are located in the United States — and the company is looking to reach customers south of the border.

In an interview with the Ottawa Business Journal late last month, Grant Hall, the chief executive of Nuvyyo, said around 95 percent of its customers are based in the United States where its Tablo hardware is sold via Nuvyyo’s direct-to-consumer website and at authorized resellers Best Buy and Amazon.

Tablo is essentially two products: A hardware device that captures over-the-air TV signals, then distributes them over a wireless network to phones, tablets, smart TVs, computers and game consoles, and software that allows users to record broadcast TV for on-demand playback after a program airs.

Nuvyyo secured $4 million in Series A venture capital funding to bring Tablo to market in 2014. Last month, the company announced it had secured an additional $6 million in Series B funding. Both times, Ottawa-based Celtic House Ventures Partners backed the company, with Export Development Canada joining in the latest round of funding.

“Nuvyyo has consistently delivered upon its mission to provide consumer-friendly technology for cord cutters…challenging [TiVo and others] in the retail DVR space for market share,” David Adderley, a partner with Celtic House Ventures, said in a press release.

Retail partners aside, Nuvyyo has found success with Tablo thanks to an accelerated trend of “cord cutting” — people ditching expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions for cheaper alternatives. Pay TV companies like Comcast, Dish Network and AT&T’s DirecTV have seen a record number of customers leaving their pay TV services while antenna installers are reporting a near-equal number of people demanding indoor and outdoor antennas to receive free broadcast stations.

That has proved to be a boon for companies like Nuvyyo as customers desire an experience for broadcast TV that is similar to a streaming service. Another issue working for Nuvvyo is one that has hurt the bottom line of pay TV companies: The global health crisis is squeezing the American economy, and customers are configuring their budgets accordingly.

Tablo’s hardware and software offer a solution to both problems — broadcast TV is free, their subscription guide and commercial-skip features are cheap, and Tablo’s companion TV app is compatible with the same hardware used for Netflix, Amazon Prime and other services.

“Nuvyyo is well positioned for success in both the US market and [in Canada] as consumers seek cost-effective alternatives to cable and satellite TV,” Eugene Siklos, an executive with Export Development Canada, said in a statement.

Hall says Nuvyyo still has more work to do to capture the market at home in Canada and across the border in the United States.

“The U.S. is a huge market, and even though we’re extremely successful, we’re still really only satisfying a fraction of that market,” Hall told the Ottawa Business Journal in an interview. “There’s still plenty of opportunity to grow our U.S. presence.”

Related: How Tablo liberates the broadcast TV experience

The company is also looking beyond the United States, eyeing a possible expansion into Mexico. Tablo’s existing line of hardware-based DVRs are compatible there because Mexican authorities require stations to use the same ATSC digital broadcast standard used in the United States and Canada.

Hall says it would also be nice to offer Tablo hardware and software in Europe, though broadcast standards are different from North America and can vary from country to country. Most European countries use the DVB-T2 standard, while some continue to employ the older DVB-T and a small handful of broadcasters maintain analog signals.

If Tablo were to expand to Europe — Hall told the Journal it was down the road — it would likely find a considerable amount of success: European TV viewers typically have to pay for a license to view over-the-air programs, but there’s more of it, and the quality tends to resemble shows on premium networks in the United States and Canada. Britain’s BBC and ITV, Germany’s Das Erste and ZDF and France’s TF1 and Canal+ all broadcast unencrypted, over-the-air (known in Europe as “free to air”) signals.

Back on these shores, Hall says Nuvyyo remains committed to providing great hardware and easy-to-use software at affordable prices for budget-conscious TV viewers.

“We pride ourselves as a very innovative company,” Hall said.

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