TV Streamer Livestation Rolling Out Premium Channels

Streaming TV startup Livestation says it will start charging for packages of some live news channels next year, as it ramps up its business model from free to freemium.

Developed by Skinkers using technology obtained from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) in exchange for equity in 2007, Livestation had, until recently, been piping news channels only through its desktop player.

But this August it added a Flash web player and a premium model. The model charges £4.99 a month per channel for higher quality pictures, and Al Jazeera English was first to upscale down this route. CNBC was soft-launched two weeks back and CNN International was added Thursday. But there’s also “hybrid” channel, available at lower bitrate, at £2.99 a month.

“We are adding more hybrid and premium channels in Q1,” CEO Matteo Berlucchi told paidContnt:UK. “The offering for hybrid channels is ‘Free at basic quality, monthly subscription for SD quality and better service level agreement (we use a faster CDN for the premium channels).

“It’s a partnership and we share a proportion of the revenues we generate. At the moment we are offering the channels a-la-carte but packages are also going to be available in the near future.”

It’s been a year when many freemium startups started getting serious about the premium part of that equation.

Ultimately, Livestation’s route sounds a lot like Spotify’s model of charging for no ads and mobility. “The service is based around multiplatform access,” Berlucchi says. “Subscribers will be able to access their channels through the browser, on our cross-platform player, on iPhone/Blackberry/Android and on gaming platforms.”

Whether there are enough people interested in paying for TV news as there are for music, though, is a pertinent question. Livestation has 1.3 million registered users,” Berlucchi says. “Too early to say what the conversion (to premium) is as the multiplatform offering is not complete, but we are pleased with what we are seeing.”