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FilmOn receives £43 million of funding

LONDON (Reuters) - FilmOn.com 2F0.F, a company that provides live high-definition broadcast television over mobile phones and laptops, has secured access to 50 million euros (43 million pounds) of funding over three years.

FilmOn.com, which touts itself as a virtual cable TV service, said it had funding from investment group Global Emerging Markets (GEM) to help develop its proposition, make acquisitions and pay for advertising.

FilmOn.com provides broadcast channels and video-on-demand programs from international content providers through a platform that works on basic broadband speeds or second generation connections.

The platform can either be branded FilmOn or as other partner companies such as broadcasters or telecoms firms. It can also be embedded in a device.

“This is great news for FilmOn.com as GEM has invested in over 260 companies in over 45 countries,” founder and entrepreneur Alki David told Reuters.

“We’ve aggregated 42,000 titles, primarily movies, documentaries and special interest shows. And it’s all about porn and sports. We really do have a lot of porn,” David said.

The company has the option to draw down up to 50 million euros over a three-year period with the timing and the amount of equity at the company’s choosing.

FilmOn has provided user-generated and video-on-demand content for several years and launched a beta trial for the broadcast channels in January.

It has done trials of the new HDi broadcasting service with the number of users increasing. It drew 775,000 unique viewers on one day, with a typical user watching an average of 37 minutes of video. The service will have a full roll-out in July.

The service also has the potential to use targeted advertising. Existing advertising will remain on the channels but through a deal with advertising specialist PacketVision, it could also offer personalised advertising based on user’s data.

Some 50 channels including BBC1, Sky News and Dubai TV will be available in real time through the company’s use of compression technology and “cloud computing” which takes pressure off the local connection and increases speeds.

“Where video delivery is concerned, this is all the promise of the Internet,” David said. “It’s a virtual cable network.

David told Reuters the group was debt free and would use the funds for further acquisitions in video-on-demand, portals and for advertising. Companies that could be of interest included the online video service Joost, he said.

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Karen Foster

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