The future of cord-cutting is now. The trend is happening faster and faster and new companies are emerging as the providers of platforms, technology and devices that can give you the content you want without a hefty cable subscription. One of these companies is Mohu a company that made a name for itself by designing an indoor HD antenna and then made an even bigger name for itself with a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring smart TV tech into the technology. Now, Mohu is moving beyond just antennas and addressing the larger cord-cutting picture, in hopes of being a true resource for all cord-cordcutters. We interviewed Mark Buff, Mohu’s founder and CEO about what they’re up to and what life will be like for cord-cutters in the post-Aereo Supereme Court decision market.
Lost Remote: Thoughts on the Aereo case and how this creates an opportunity for Mohu?
Mark Buff: The reason Aereo existed and became so popular was because it filled a real and growing consumer need: the freedom to watch the TV they want at a price they can afford – something cable companies couldn’t deliver. Even without Aereo, consumers still feel this way, which will continue to drive the ‘cord-cutting’ movement forward. The good news is, consumers still have many options. From over-the-air antennas for free broadcast TV to streaming services like Netflix, consumers have the power to get what they want from TV.
LR: Why did you decide to launch Mohu?
Buff: The idea to launch Mohu came during my time developing radio communications technology for the U.S. Armed Forces. My team was faced with the challenge of developing a stealthy communications device that wouldn’t be visible to enemy forces. So we designed a flat, paper-thin antenna that could be concealed behind the mud flap of a ground transport vehicle. This was the inspiration for the durable, paper-thin design seen in the Mohu Leaf Antenna today. In 2010 we realized that there was a great opportunity to bring military-grade antenna technology to the general public – and thus Mohu was born.
LR: How will this enable social TV?
Buff: Mohu empowers social TV by giving cord-cutters access to live over-the-air broadcasts, enabling them to be a part of the social media conversation rather than shutting them out of it. Live TV is obviously a big driver for social TV. An antenna like the Mohu Leaf is the best and most reliable way for consumers to get free access to live broadcasts of the biggest social TV events of the year, from major sporting events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl to award ceremonies like the Oscars and the VMAs. Not to mention, we’ve noticed that cord-cutters tend to be a tech-savvy and socially-active bunch, adding to the social chatter that much more.
LR: What’s your background?
Buff: Since childhood I’ve always been the curious type, that kid with a passion for tinkering who would build things and try to sell them. That curiosity has fueled me my entire career, leading me to study physics and electrical engineering as an undergrad and ultimately pursue a PhD in radio-frequency engineering at NCSU (North Carolina State University). My work there developing radio-based detectors to identify and disarm IEDs (improvised explosive device) for the U.S. Armed Forces lead me to a specific focus on antenna technology and design. Now I use that knowledge to develop antenna systems as founder and president of Mohu and its sister company GreenWave Scientific.
LR: Anything else?
Buff: Cord-cutting isn’t just a trend, it’s a movement. The passion and enthusiasm we see from our user base is astounding. In fact, our newest product, Mohu Channels, a “cord-cutter’s dream machine,” was funded by our “Mohuligans” (what our fans call themselves) on Kickstarter. A good portion of the features added in to the final product were a direct result of feedback from the Kickstarter backers. Between the tremendous response to the Kickstarter, which raised more than 4x the original funding goal, upheaval in the industry such as the Aereo case and ongoing talks of mega-mergers between major cable players, it’s clear the TV industry is reaching a tipping point. The model that comes out on top will be the one that successfully incorporates the trifecta of “open, simple and free” to bring consumers what they actually want from TV: the freedom to choose what they watch, how they watch it, at a cost that they control.