The guys at Screach have raised some $2.5 million in new operating capital and changed up the business model, focusing on being an interactive pub entertainment solution.
ScreachTV, as it is branded, allows pubs to fill the dead space on their TVs (between things like Premier League and rugby matches) by creating their own personal, local TV channels that have interactive games, social media content, local offers, advertising and (groan) news headlines.
Screach, or ScreenReach as it was known when the company launched three or four years ago, is still very much focused on mobile to big screen interactivity. But instead of having a proprietary mobile app that ties into a server, the big switch here is the use of a little plug and play set-top box the pubs install. That’s what the locals interact with on their phones.
ScreachTV started rolling out in the new year following trials last year, and is already in place in over 100 pubs in the UK and US. By installing and connecting the plug-and-play box to their existing TV screens, venue owners can easily build their own channel tailored to that pub/bar and their audience.
The features include:
- Personalized offers, polls and adverts for the pub or local businesses;
- Feeds of the latest news, sport and entertainment headlines;
- Streams of tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and Instagram photos, which can be related to the pub, the city or even the local football team;
- Interactive experiences which customers can play using their mobile, from pub quizzes to games and jukeboxes.
“All sorts of people go to pubs to eat, drink and socialize,” says Screach CEO Paul Rawlings in a news release, “so a screen with the right sort of content can attract a huge amount of attention.”
“When pubs are showing live sport, it’s a real draw. But when there’s nothing on, they either switch the TVs off or show content that isn’t really that relevant, such as a random channel on mute. That’s not the best experience for the customer.
Screach has been doing mobile interactive experiences for over two years, working with major brands such as Cadbury’s, Clear Channel, Bauer Media, Newcastle United and SwiftCover. It also recently developed a pilot second screen app for Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary series.
But, and this is my guess only, most of that stuff is project-based and does not have the recurring revenues that allow a company to plan grow. The feat or famine thing is a bitch, and even more so in a crowded field like mobile apps, where there is ALWAYS someone with something that’s cooler.
The pub service thing means Screach TV is a repeatable solution it can sell over and over and over on on a subscriber basis, and there are a few pubs in the UK, from what I vague recall.
“We’re quickly growing a UK-wide entertainment network,” says Rawlings. “We have linked up with an experienced distribution partner in Bob Rudd Leisure, which has a network of over 2,000 pubs nationwide. We’re also finalizing deals with content partners on a large scale.
“We have a number of venues live in the north, and we’re starting to sign up bars in London now. Our primary focus is to get mass rollout throughout the UK, while we test the market in locations such as New York. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for bars to create their very own beautiful channel that will keep customers engrossed from opening time to last orders.”
The $2.5 million for Screach TV is being backed by Northstar Ventures’ Finance for Business North East Accelerator Fund, Hotspur Capital and other strategic investors in the UK.
Well-known industry guy David Weinfeld, who joined Screach a couple of years ago as head of strategy, recently left the company and is working on a start-up I will tell you about when he’s ready to make some noise about it (it’s interesting).