Streaming On-Premise Content Platform Atmosphere Completes $100M Raise To Further Grow Footprint
January 5, 2022 by Dave Haynes
The Austin, TX-based streaming content platform Atmosphere has announced a big cash raise intended to continue expanding its on-premises TV entertainment for business footprint in the U.S. and other countries.
The company has completed an $80 million Series C funding round, led by Sageview Capital, and secured a $20 million debt facility (a loan, for us mere mortals) provided by Bridge Bank. On the heels of a funding round last year, the company has now raised over $140 million.
Atmosphere’s announcement comes as the company doubled its customer footprint over the past year, streaming more than 250,000 hours per day in aggregate and reaching more than 20 million unique viewers each month. Currently, the company’s free ad-supported streaming platform provides short-form, audio-optional programming across 64 channels to over 18,000 restaurants, bars, gyms, doctor offices and other venues worldwide, including Meineke Car Care, Burger King, and Texas Roadhouse.
The Series C funding will be used to gain additional distribution scale, while continuing to enhance and build the company’s operations across content, marketing, and ad sales.
Three-year-old Atmosphere’s business model involves sending business operators free, pre-staged Apple TV boxes that just need to be plugged in and connected to broadband – providing access to more than 50 streaming content channels that reach some 20 million sets of eyeballs monthly. There are curated channels full of cute pets and funny misadventures, but there’s also a newsroom that produces carefully selected news that manages to straddle the increasingly polarized political divides of the U.S.
There is just a one-time $99 activation fee, as Atmosphere monetizes its content through a proprietary advertising platform, and a paid digital signage program that allows venues to run their own advertising between content.
The company owns pretty much owns the solution stack – device, content channels, product delivery, and ad tech – save for the TV and the broadband.
“Since the invention of the TV, no one has stepped up to create content specifically for an audio-less viewing experience in businesses,” says Leo Resig, co-founder and CEO of Atmosphere. “Our partners at Sageview, Valor and S3 share our passion and vision to take the entire third space by storm. Wherever there is a TV screen, customers, and dwell time, Atmosphere should be streaming in that business. Atmosphere is the perfect solution for businesses who want to elevate their space and advertisers who are looking to get in front of an increasingly unreachable TV audience.”
Through dynamic contextual, geographic, and demographic targeting, Atmosphere reaches the right audience when they are most open to an advertiser’s message, juxtaposed to premium, curated and time-tested entertainment content.
This is a podcast I did a few weeks ago with an Atmosphere exec …
The rise and backing of Atmosphere presents a bit of a problem for pure-play digital signage companies that target the sorts of venues that Atmosphere serves. This service is in many to most cases going to be less costly than what they can do on the hardware and software side, and particularly so if the cost of content is factored in.
These venues are surrendering advertising messages to a third-party, and there is a new fee if these local businesses want to inject their own ads into the stream, as things like L-Bars. But my pretty safe guess is a lot of venues are more concerned with having steadily refreshed, curated content on screens that entertains and occupies customers, and paying little to nothing for that.
Being in 18,000 venues is substantial for a network that’s less than three years old, and $100 million will allow them to kit out a lot more shops, clinics, cafes and gyms with streaming boxes. I have no idea if the company is profitable, but a bank had enough confidence to do a $20M loan.
There is still a business for companies – from pure-play CMS providers to Samsung with its smartphone-controlled prosumer TVs for business – but it may be wiser to sell what they have as operating in parallel to Atmosphere, as opposed to directly against it. It is hard to win a pitch against damn-near-free, unless the pitch is about different things – like full-time, full-screen promotions and messaging, or data-integration and operational needs like notifications and dynamic pricing.
It’s also interesting to see Apple TVs being used on a big, scaled network like this. A few companies like Kitcast and Carousel (Tightrope) use Apple TVs as their players, but their adoption has not been all that widespread in the “traditional” digital signage ecosystem.
I’d love to have a chat with Apple for a post and podcast if anyone has ties to the right people. I don’t know anyone there.
UPDATE – Atmosphere also announced a deal today that puts TikTok videos on the streaming platform. I assume that means some of the rights clearance issues associated with using user-generated videos will already be sorted, or at least easier to sort out, through this partnership.