• Penthera Raises $6 Million to Power Video Downloads

    Penthera, which makes software to power video downloading to mobile devices, has raised $6 million from Liberty Global Ventures, the venture investment arm of Liberty Global International, which is the biggest international cable company and chaired by John Malone. Liberty Global is also a Penthera customer.

    Penthera’s Cache&Carry software enables video providers to let their viewers download video to their iOS and Android mobile devices. Cache&Carry includes DRM support, configurable business rules, download queuing options, mobile DVR and “FastPlay” which launches buffer-free viewing.

    I’ve been advocating for download to go for years and recently it has gained solid traction. Downloading makes a ton of sense because even with advancements in mobile networks, having a sufficiently robust connection for a high-quality stream is still far from a given. And mobile data remains very pricey, with video quickly eating up plans. The advent of 64 GB, 128 GB and even 256 GB smartphones also makes carrying around lots of downloaded video a breeze.

    There are also many very strong use cases for downloading. For example, I’ve been taking video with me on long flights and train rides for years. Parents can load up their mobile devices with kids content for car rides and meals. Lugging around DVDs and special purpose DVD players becomes a thing of the past.

    Surprisingly though, up until just 2 short years ago, Netflix, the biggest SVOD player, was totally resistant to downloading, with its former head of product saying, “I still don’t think it’s a very compelling value proposition” and questioning whether users could handle the “complexity.” However, Amazon has totally embraced downloading and naturally, now Netflix has as well, at least for its originals, which are universally available for download as best I can tell.

    As compelling as downloading is, awareness still remains relatively low. According to a survey Penthera released this past May, over a third of subscribers to major SVOD services age 18-44 years-old weren’t aware downloading was available. However, 15% of respondents who said they download at least once per month, the same as those who said they stream.

    Downloading is still primarily for early adopters, but as awareness and trial grows, it will become much more popular. Another key ingredient is having dynamically updated and trackable ads, so that downloading is more practical for ad-supported video providers. With its new financing, Penthera will surely help to grow the market.