Atmosphere Adds Streaming, Steadily-Updated News To Place-Based TV Channel Options

October 5, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Bandwidth has sped up and stabilized to a level that using streaming TV as part or all of a digital signage/DOOH solution no longer seems unpredictable and risky, and a good example of where things are heading is an Austin, TX company called Atmosphere, which spun out a couple of years ago from Chive Media Group.

The company has dozens of content-specific streaming TV channels aimed at defined types of venues – like bars and fitness centers – and has now added a news channel, simply called Atmosphere News. “The new channel was purpose-built,” says the firm in PR, “to provide a TV news experience optimized for out-of-home locations, incorporating a short-form, audio-optional narrative format that avoids talking heads, subtitles and voiceover narration to inform viewers. Atmosphere News is also free of the analysis and opinion-heavy approach that has become a mainstay of traditional cable TV news, providing venue owners with a facts-only, easy-to-understand TV news solution that serves all audiences.”

The Atmosphere News team is led by digital and TV news veteran Micah Grimes, who joined the company in June from NBC News. The launch of Atmosphere News represents the company’s largest, single-channel investment to date, offering hourly updates and coverage of 40 to 50 stories each day at launch. 

“The out-of-home TV news market represents a huge untapped opportunity that isn’t really being served by existing options,” says Leo Resig, co-founder and CEO of Atmosphere. “With Atmosphere News we’re introducing a presentation format that, unlike traditional news, is optimized for viewing in public spaces and that venue owners can screen without creating division among their clientele. Once business owners see just how effective Atmosphere News is at delivering today’s stories without any larger agenda, they won’t be returning to cable.” 

For marketers, Atmosphere News provides the opportunity to align their brands with highly sought-after, politically unbiased, brand safe news content. The Atmosphere platform also enables brands to deliver their message to the exact right audience at the exact right time with targeting across geography, daypart and, unique to Atmosphere, venues: hotels, corporate offices, point-of-care facilities, restaurants, and more.

Developed to engage out-of-home audiences across Atmosphere’s installed footprint of more than 14,000 retail locations including restaurants, bars, gyms, hotels and doctor’s offices, Atmosphere News joins a 50+ channel lineup of varied family-friendly programming designed for every business environment.

The launch and service was possible via a $25 million Series B funding round led by Valor Equity Partners, which values Atmosphere at $275 million.

Launched in 2019, Atmosphere streams an aggregate of more than 250,000 hours of programming per day across 53 channels of both owned and partner content, reaching over 25 million unique visits every month. Atmosphere retail clients include Westin, Hilton, McDonald’s and thousands of other businesses of all sizes. Atmosphere provides venues with TV hardware and programming for free, monetizing its content through its proprietary advertising platform and through paid subscriptions. Paid subscribers are granted access to a digital signage manager, allowing them to run their own ads during programming breaks. 

This is quite different from the majority of content produced by Atmosphere, which has mainly focused on video and images curated from social media – with an emphasis on nutty, cute and either lite or high-energy material that gets people watching as they dine, drink or work out. There are channels, for example, like Oddly Satisfying TV and Happy TV.

The carved up, multi-zoned screen layout here is generally NOT what you want to see for digital signage, as viewers don’t know where to look and have short attention spans. But in the context of what Atmosphere is trying to do here, I get it. It offers an alternative to broadcast news that looks familiar, and provides an apolitical news option for venues that are suffering through customers arguing over whether CNN or Fox should be on in the waiting area or elsewhere. Having something that neuters that argument would be welcome.

There are, of course, lots of news feed options out there already, from the likes of Screenfeed, Digichief, Datacall and Seenspire. The distinction is that they are downloaded files and feeds, as opposed to a subscribed stream that’s based on an app and URL.

Leave a comment