Tentpole is a worldwide subscription video on demand streaming service and production company, owned jointly by the OWL Streaming Services division ofOWL Ventures' OWL Media, and Vuori, with minority stakes held by The Eclipse Group, Illustrious and Pretzel Lake. Tentpole was formed though the merger of the majority of OWL's and Vuori's worldwide streaming service efforts. 

It works as a catch-up service, as well as a subscription streaming platform, utilizing their proprietary streaming technology, as well as Krake's cloud services.

History

OWL Media announced to create a streaming service with the MGM library as a main feature early on. It would be handled by OWL Streaming Services, which recently acquired MGM On Demand Inc. during OWL's acquisition of MGM Holdings.

In August 2020, OWL Media merged the following streaming and VOD services into their new streaming service project:

  • Laugh Out Loud,
  • Tribeca Shortlist,
  • Shudder,
  • Epix On Demand and Epix HD (online streaming),
  • Vu!, 
  • OCS,
  • Showmax,
  • Eros Now,
  • Yahoo! Screen,
  • Amediateka,
  • Acorn TV,
  • BIGFlix,
  • Pantaya,
  • Stargate Command,​
  • Starzplay
  • and IFC Films Unlimited

These services are set to close when the project finishes initial development.

In September 2020, Vuori, Pretzel Lake and The Eclipse Group were announced as new shareholders in Tentpole LLC, the company founded as a dedicated unit for Tentpole streaming service and its original programming. This also meant Tentpole was now expanding more into Europe and North America, as well as to Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, as Vuori decided to merge the following streaming services and related assets into the company:

  • ​​UMC​, SundanceNow, Discovery Kids Play, Joyn, Dplay, Player.pl, 6play, ​Spuul​, ​iflix​, ​icflix​, Viaplay & Viafree, HIDIVE and Anime Network VOD
  • Krake's Streaming Service Development Group (including MultiChoice Group/MNet Group's digital media assets, Roku, the former PlayStation Vue, Rings.TV and Loops Live) - their offices in Los Gatos and San Jose were merged into a new office in Mountain View
  • Endeavor Streaming

This new shift in strategy also meant that all Vuori and OWL owned channels would adopt Tentpole as their first-party streaming platform. This also brought original programming from these services, especially PlayStation Vue, Viaplay and iflix, into the new platform. However, this also meant the company also discontinued the development on Roku OS and set the Roku Channel to close after Tentpole has launched; this prompted Vuori to discontinue the Roku Players officially and continue them under their open source development program.

The Viaplay merger also brought Tentpole to Finland, through a joint venture with Elisa, which owns Elisa Viihde.

In December 2020, Tentpole LLC announced co-bidding partners for certain projects: United Artists for indie films and Food Network for food and cooking shows. These will co-bid for new original films and series as well as exclusive international distribution rights, in order to boost Tentpole's indie offerings. MGM/Televisa's unit Pantelion Films was also turned into a Tentpole-only distribution unit, boosting Tentpole's offerings to the Hispanic audiences.

The same month, Crown Cellular, Qualis and Hoot announced to offer Tentpole Premium to their customers at a cheaper price ($3.99/€3.99 per month for Standard, $8.99/€8.99 per month for premium) than newcomers (see section Tiers).

Later that month, Oliver Watson's personal holding company, Illustrious, announced it would join the Tentpole consortium, offering its channels such as Fox and Citytv, plus content from the Sony Pictures and Studio Watson libraries. Watson also signed a multi year deal with Tentpole to produce programming for the service.

Tiers

  • Tentpole Free: A successor to the Viafree streaming service, this ad-supported tier offers rental or purchase of any Tentpole original film or show at $6/€6 each for a film, and $15/€15 for a season of a show. They also offer "Tentpole Free Samples" programming, targeted to lure newcomers in with enticing offering. Tentpole Free Samples are not to be confused with Tentpole Originals. They also allow access to a catch up service for channels owned by Vuori and OWL.
  • Tentpole Standard ($4.99/€4.99 per month): A paid tier, allowing up to 1080p HD streaming on 5 devices, as well as access to Tentpole Originals (not including live and VR programming), a catch up service and a la carte channels.
  • Tentpole Premium ($11/€11 per month): A full-fledged tier, allowing up to 4K UHD streaming on unlimited devices, as well as access to a la carte channels and all programming, including live and VR programming.

Programming

Main article: List of Tentpole original programming

Initially announced with the MGM library as the main selling point of the service, OWL later reached streaming agreements with its longtime business partners Vuori, Eclipse, and Pretzel Lake, to provide, develop and produce content for the service. For the first batch of original programming, the four companies collectively spent $20 billion.

Tentpole intends to also feature local content as well as content made by or aimed at minority groups. Their original programming include programming made by The Flama, a comedy group part of Vuori's Styhon Digital Studios. Originally, they were working on an over-the-top network, until their parent company Univision was acquired in 2020. The inclusion of The Flama's programming is meant to attract the Latino diaspora.

Their sports programming includes ZSports, formerly part of iflix.

They have deals with CJ Entertainment and Banijay Group (which Vuori owns a stake on) to move most of their films and shows to Tentpole. They also acquired all original programming by Yahoo! Screen, Xbox Entertainment Studios, HOOQ and go90, and have access to all original programming produced by Audience.

A la carte and "personal channels"

Aside from Tentpole's original and acquired programming, they also are testing an aggregator feature at launch, offering add-on channels "a la carte" style (like ​Apple TV Channels​ and ​Amazon Channels​); their first partners include Showtime, CBS All Access, and ​Britbox​ (which Vuori owns a minority stake in). One of the a la carte channels includes MGM's own MGM Sci-Fi linear channel, which used to be part of the Roku platform. This Tentpole feature is the successor to Roku OS and The Roku Channel.

Their a la carte offerings also include proprietary offerings (which used to be streaming services): Laugh Out Loud - operated with HartBeat Digital - and Tribeca Shortcut - operated with Tribeca Enterprises.

Tentpole is also set to test a feature during its launch, called "personal channels", inspired by Roku's channel creation kit, which would allow developers to create their own channels within the platform. If it proves to be successful, it may become a permanent feature, but if not, it will be discontinued and "open sourced" along with the Roku platform and Roku OS.

Special programming

Following Krake SSDG's merger into Tentpole LLC, the company's engineering teams decided to take on adding compatibility with live programming, as well as virtual reality, for both browser and mobile versions.

Operations

Tentpole LLC has dual headquarters at OWL Ventures's offices in Toronto and Vuori's offices in Hyvinkää. They have engineering teams in Prague, Stockholm, Kuala Lumpur, Mountain View, Plainsview and Singapore.

See also

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