Vancouver's BroadbandTV receives US$36 million investment from RTL Group

Also expanding to the US and Europe.

Vancouver-based digital media company BroadbandTV is making a play for the top spot in the global multichannel network market.

On Wednesday, CEO Shahrzad Rafati announced that her company has received a US$36 million investment from RTL Group, one of Europe’s largest broadcast and entertainment networks. In Canada, the funds constitute the largest financial placement in an Internet media company in the past six years.

RTL Group owns numerous TV and radio stations cross Europe and is owned by the Bertelsmann media company.

BroadbandTV is currently the fifth-largest multichannel network—services that assist content creators with finding wider audiences or managing copyright in exchange for ad revenue—on YouTube. According to a release, the company has over 7800 “channel partners,” including independent content creators as well as major clients such as the NBA and Discovery Communications.

BroadbandTV won’t be in fifth place for long though, if Rafati has anything to say about it.

“We have a really ambitious business plan, and our goal is to be the leading multichannel network,” she said in an interview Wednesday with Canadian Business.

RTL Group now owns a 51 per cent stake in BroadbandTV, and the Canadian company plans to take advantage of RTL’s vast global network of partners and acquired companies. On the horizon is a possible “cross-pollination” between BroadbandTV and RTL’s Fremantle Media, said Rafati, which owns major television productions such as the Got Talent, Idol, and X-Factor show brands.

BroadbandTV itself will be going global, said Rafati, noting that the company’s headquarters will remain in Vancouver as it opens full offices with sales and consultant teams in Los Angeles, New York, and a yet-to-be-determined (but likely Berlin) European location.

The investment is a major step forward for BroadbandTV, which Rafati started in 2005 as young entrepreneur, newly-graduated from UBC’s computer science program. Since then, the company has grown to include over two dozen employees. Having partnered with thousands of content creators, BroadbandTV sites generated 2.1 billion views on YouTube in the first quarter of 2013 alone.

Rafati said the RTL investment will be a chance to enhance BroadbandTV’s technology, which uses algorithms to help companies find fan-uploaded content on YouTube and take advantage of the revenue that might be associated with that content.

The initial $36 million sum from RTL Group will be one of a planned series of investments in BroadbandTV from the European media giant.