Digital Dealmakers: Daniel Tibbets

Oct 16, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The player: Daniel Tibbets, executive VP of GoTV Networks, a producer and aggregator of mobile television content for cellphones.

The play: The mobile TV audience grew to 3.7 million subscribers in the second quarter of this year, up 45 percent from the first quarter, according to mobile video research firm Telephia. GoTV aims to reach those customers with a mix of premium channels for mobile phones. GoTV produces original content and aggregates about a dozen mobile channels in genres such as comedy, hip hop, sports and music. GoTV is a subscription service that’s currently available to users with Sprint, Nextel, Boost Mobile and Cingular plans who have video-capable phones. Most of the GoTV channels cost about $5.99 per month.

The pitch: GoTV plans to expand its content offerings this week, when it announces a deal to add segments from G4 shows such as “The Daily Nut,” “Attack of the Show” and “X-Play.” Mr. Tibbets is charged with striking deals for mobile content with networks and other programming providers, but don’t expect a raft of similar deals, he said. The G4 brand, which targets males 18 to 34, aligns thematically with GoTV, and the G4 content breaks down easily into short bites for the mobile appetite. “We talk to the traditional media companies every day about new content, ways to create unique content,” he said. “Our focus is we create specifically targeted brand channels we deploy across multiple carriers and handsets.”

In the mix: GoTV’s lineup includes about 12 channels with originally produced content as well as video from Sony BMG, Univision, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ESPN and The Weather Channel.

The market: GoTV declined to disclose its subscriber numbers, but said it is growing along with the market. “We are seeing growth rates for early adopters, and it is clearly a solid and sound business model. We are absolutely seeing an increase in subscribers,” Mr. Tibbets said.

The money guys: In March 2005, Charles River Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners invested $15 million, the major funding source for GoTV.

The pros: CTIA-The Wireless Association estimates there are more than 225 million cellphone subscribers in the U.S.

The cons: “People look at [mobile video] as a way to promote traditional shows,” he said. But ideally, mobile content should be unique and crafted for the mobile environment, he added.

Backstory: The company was founded in 2003 as 1KTV and rebranded in March 2005 as GoTV. That’s when it began to focus on mobile video. Mr. Tibbets has worked in executive roles at CBS Enterprises, Fireworks Television, Papazian-Hirsch Entertainment and Twentieth Television, where he created and developed the first TV episodes for a mobile phone: “Love and Hate” and “The Sunset Hotel,” which premiered in February 2005.

Who knew? Mr. Tibbets, 37, was born in Middletown, Conn., and grew up in Connecticut and Mesa, Ariz. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State University in 1992. He is married with two young daughters. Mr. Tibbets said the idea for the Fox “mobisode” originated when a friend brought him back a video-enabled Nokia 6600 handset from the United Kingdom as a gift. He had it re-engineered to work in the U.S. so he could use it as a sales tool for demonstrating the capabilities of mobile video. -DAISY WHITNEY