Massive cashes in on momentum while it can with Deltatre deal

Massive Interactive kicked off 2018 full of aspirations, poaching an experienced executive from Verizon with the aim of driving dominance in the Android TV operator tier market. In stark contrast, the UK-based multiscreen software specialist is set to end the year intermingled into a virtually unknown company called Deltatre, an Italian immersive sports software developer.

“It’s hard to commoditize the user experience,” was the ironic response to a question from Massive Interactive’s Chief Revenue Officer Chip Canter, speaking to Faultline Online Reporter shortly after his appointment back in May. Commoditization? What commoditization, we hear you ask?

At the time, Canter argued that – technologically speaking – back end components have largely been perfected and the future challenge therefore lies in how to efficiently run an OTT video platform. He described Massive’s UX platform as enshrining some of the most valuable OTT video technologies on the market today, and the ex-Go90 man looks to have been instrumental in securing a sale to Deltatre, having been a key figure in Verizon’s acquisition of short-form video firm Vessel a couple of years ago.

A $127 million bid has been agreed upon, a combination of cash and earn-out provisions, creating what the two describe as the largest independent OTT technology provider in the world. A few companies, namely the industry’s three new boys Synamedia, Velocix and MediaKind, might have a thing or two to say about that, although some might eliminate MediaKind from this list due to Ericsson retaining a 49% shareholding.

Above all else, the deal gives Deltatre a crucial foothold in Asia Pacific markets via Massive customers including PCCW, along with several unspecified tier 1 broadcaster and telco customer deals in the region,  spearheading its fast-paced global growth over the past 24 months, the company told us. Massive will provide Deltatre with a fresh suite of audience engagement capabilities and an injection of UX expertise which, judging by its rather bland website, the company clearly needs.

Massive’s Axis platform is a good fit for Deltatre, with major live sports events being highlighted as a crucial focus area for Massive. The UX software is purpose built for personalizing the TV editorial process, designed to make it easier for editorial and marketing teams to send out things like product promotions and special offers – using deep learning techniques from recommendation engine market leader ThinkAnalytics to understand user behavior.

Axis will become part of Deltatre’s Amplify platform, a modular suite of OTT technologies centered around a CMS. Faultline Online Reporter is planning to investigate what makes Deltatre tick in much more detail during a briefing with the new Massive Interactive owner lined up for next week.

We have mentioned before how Massive’s Axis product description springs up similarities to platforms from Netgem, Ostmodern and even the European Broadcasting Union, suggesting these too are worth in the region of $127 million.

Set to complete on November 20, the new Deltatre business will boast 18 offices globally and will add around 350 Massive employees to its current workforce of 650.

The press release merely states that Massive Interactive will operate as a division of Deltatre, raising questions about whether the Massive brand will continue or if it will become a Deltatre business, although a company executive assured us “Massive remains as is. Same name, same execs.”

Private equity firm Bruin Sports Capital owns a majority stake in Deltatre, so, despite being told otherwise, we see internal shavings as inevitable and we’ll aim to shine some light on this next week. Bruin Sports Capital is in turn owned by the former President of IMG Sports & Entertainment, George Pyne.

Deltatre Co-Founder and CEO, Giampiero Rinaudo, said, “This shift to OTT is accelerating throughout the world, and the ability to customize individual viewing experiences and create genuine consumer engagement is vital to the movement. Massive’s next-generation UI and audience engagement software are proven to drive ARPU.”

Ron Downey, Massive Co-Founder and CEO, added, “The integration of our targeted UX platform Axis with Deltatre’s robust product portfolio will combine to offer our customers a highly scalable, quick-to-market solution that drives engagement and increase the profitability of OTT video services. We are also very impressed with Deltatre’s people and culture and feel that we share the same values. By coming together, we are creating a business that will undoubtedly be the leading B2B vendor for live and OTT video platforms globally.”

Deltatre boasts a blue-chip client roster including IFA, Premier League, DFL, IOC, EuropeanTour, NFL, UEFA, BBC, BT Sport, Discovery, ATP, and Sony, while Massive’s customer list includes BBC Worldwide, Bell Media, Channel 5, Telecine, Sony Pictures Television, and most recently Danish public broadcaster DR.