Atmosphere readies its TV-for-venues pitch for Advertising Week

Atmosphere has a request for bar and restaurant owners that bartenders are used to getting from their customers: a change of channels.

The Austin-based company, which offers a large slate of ad-supported sports, news and lifestyle streaming channels for free to venues that need something moderately engaging on their TV screens, is bringing that pitch to Advertising Week New York.

In a conversation Monday, Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Spicer, who joined the company a month ago after 14-plus years at WarnerMedia and Turner Broadcasting, offered a preview of the company’s message at that conference.

Spicer described Atmosphere’s menu of channels — which range from such lifestyle fare as the Bob Ross Channel to sportier options like Red Bull Television and World Poker Tour to the pub-trivia offering Geeks Who Drink — as “curated connected television.”

“For some venues, we’re a fantastic full replacement,” he said. “For others, we’re a complement.”

He cited the hypothetical example of a bar that needs big-name live sports but will leave its patrons “watching a TV on silent with four talking heads” if it sticks only to those pricey sports channels.

Atmosphere’s pitch for businesses emphasizes that its content doesn’t require patrons’ ears or even their sustained attention with “audio-optional, no storyline to follow,” as touted on its how-it-works page.

“What you can see is a channel offering that is pretty diverse,” Spicer said. “It lets a venue choose what’s appropriate for them.”

Venues need to install its required streaming hardware, an Apple TV box with Atmosphere’s app pre-loaded, and can then insert their own promotions using the company’s online dashboard.

The privately-held firm announced an $80 million Series C funding round in January, led by Sageview Capital, a bit more than three years after spinning out of Chive Media Group.

The idea then was to address what founders John and Leo Resig saw as “a pretty unfulfilling proposition,” in that venues were left showing content made for viewing at home to people who had chosen to go outside their homes.

“We feel really strong about the funding we have and the runway ahead of us,” Spicer said of the latest round, adding that Atmosphere is optimizing itself for further growth. It’s seen its number of customer screens jump from 6,000 18 months ago to 40,000 today, and he predicts that number topping 50,000 was “only months ahead.”

The venues hosting those screens include the likes of Burger King and Caesars Entertainment; Atmosphere also suggests such use cases as gyms, waiting rooms, airports, veterinary clinics and dispensaries. Its sales pitch for that last category of establishment features a hypothetical ad that a pot purveyor might want to insert: “15% Off All Baked Goods: Ask About It At Check Out.”

For marketers, meanwhile, Spicer described the appeal of Atmosphere as a way to find potential customers outside their living rooms, who by virtue of that act have demonstrated a willingness to spend a little money.

“Over 70% of our consumers are 18-34,” he said. “It is a young, active, on-the-go audience”—one, he added, “that is increasingly hard to find.”