The Mark Cuban-backed streaming app Fireside, which today offers podcasters and other creators a way to host interactive, live shows with audience engagement, will soon expand to the big TV screen. Variety reported and Fireside confirmed that it has acquired open TV streaming platform Stremium, which will allow Fireside’s shows to be available on a range of connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, smart TVs and more.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cuban he retweeted Variety reported but made no further public comment.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed the deal to TechCrunch, noting that it was for a combination of IP and talent.
“Fireside has acquired all of Stremium, including its full team and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said. “The company is the first web3 interactive streaming platform and the acquisition will help Fireside accelerate delivery and be the only platform that turns creators, celebrities, brands and IP owners into the studios, networks and streaming services of the future. Expect other major announcements soon on this front,” they added.
Launched just over a year ago, Fireside arrives on the heels of pandemic-fueled demand for live entertainment startups, as well as a growing number of startups serving the creator economy.
Despite some early—and misplaced—comparisons between Fireside and other live audio platforms like Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse, the startup has gained traction due to a diverse feature set that also prioritizes video content. Shows on Fireside’s platform could be streamed live on its app, recorded, saved, or even simulcast to other social networks. The app includes additional audience engagement tools and other features to help creators with promotion, curation, measurement, distribution, monetization and audience growth as part of the end-to-end content production experience Fireside. More recently, the company has been exploring web3 technologies, including NFTs.
Co-founded by Cuban, early Yammer employee Mike Ihbe, and ex-Googler, YouTuber, and Node co-founder Falon Fatemi, who sold his last company to SugarCRM, Fireside has managed to attract some high-profile creators like Jay Leno, Michael Dell, Melissa Rivers, Craig Kilborn and Entourage writer and creator Doug Ellin in the past year.
In a letter to Fireside investors published by Variety, Fatemi shared that the acquisition of Stremium would help Fireside deliver a “second screen experience where audiences can use their phones to engage and interact in real time watching his televisions.”
“Imagine watching a live cooking show with your favorite chef at the same time on your TV and phone, where you can interact and be invited to speak directly with them and even show them what you’re cooking from the palm of your hand,” Fatemi explained. In addition, Stremium’s infrastructure will allow creators to upload, publish, schedule and distribute their live shows on both mobile and TV, he added. (Stremium confirmed the accuracy of the letter to us.)
TechCrunch this February reported that Fireside was in talks to raise a $25 million Series A that valued its business at $125 million. That round has since closed, but Fireside has yet to make an official announcement about its raise, investors or valuation. We understand this may be because Fireside is still adding some additional strategic investors to the deal and plans to detail the fundraising soon. Of course, the funding may have helped pave the way for Fireside to make this new acquisition.
Other investors in Fireside include the Chainsmokers, HBSE, Goodwater, Animal Capital and NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald and Kelvin Beachum and former NBA star Baron Davis, in addition to Cuban. Prior to Series A, Fireside had raised about $8 million.
Stremium had developed a service that allowed consumers to aggregate all their favorite channels using their “TV Everywhere” credentials and use a cloud DVR instead of downloading separate streaming apps. It also included a selection of free streaming channels. However, the service has faced an increasingly competitive landscape where there are now multiple ways to watch free streaming content, including Tubi, Pluto TV, The Roku Chanel, Freevee (formerly IMDb TV), Plex and more. Meanwhile, cord-cutting is accelerating, leaving fewer people with cable TV connections for Stremium to promote its services.
The Stremium website now directs visitors to Fireside and confirms the purchase. Fireside aims to launch its TV product sometime next year as a result of the deal.