Molotov Strikes Deal to Get Live-TV App Onto Samsung Phones, TVs

  • French video startup also signs contract with LG Electronics
  • Molotov separately in discussions for more venture funding

French video startup Molotov struck a deal to get its application pre-loaded onto Samsung Electronics Co. phones, tablets and smart televisions in France starting next year, a boon for the company seeking to become the Netflix of live TV.

The Paris-based company also signed a separate distribution agreement with LG Electronics Inc. for new-generation televisions that connect to the Internet, Molotov said in a statement Thursday. Molotov started its service this year after signing content deals with French broadcasters, and has been adding users on an invitation-only basis as it ramps up. It’s also seeking to raise about $108 million to expand.

Created by two media-industry veterans -- one is president of the Cannes Film Festival and the other created online movie portal Allocine -- Molotov sees itself as a replacement for the remote control. It displays several live TV channels at once to make it easier for users to navigate, and also offers replays.

The startup is in talks with investors to raise money by sometime early next year, co-founder Jean-David Blanc said Thursday. It’s weighing options for international expansion, though nothing has been decided, he said.

Old-fashioned television sets are set to lose ground to new ways of content distribution, according to Montpellier, France-based researcher Idate Digiworld. Competition is fierce though: There are some 145 catch-up TV services in France and more than 80 video-on-demand platforms for movies and series, according to Idate. 

Outside France, Magine AB, a Swedish live-TV streaming service also available in Germany, has a similar product to Molotov’s and is expanding to the U.K.