Streaming Media

 

E! Online Says Snackable Content Is King in Online Video
Viewers enjoy on-the-go video, finds the entertainment network, and that means short-form clips are on the rise.
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While long-form video content has been gaining ground online, E! Entertainment finds that short-form still works best. At the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, Gerald Abrahamian, vice president of digital operations at NBCUniversal, explained why people love short-form content - and the Kardashians.

"Most of our content that we have, from a network perspective, is snackable content, short-form, content on-the-go," Abrahamian said. "All of our long-form is behind paid walls such as iTunes or VOD networks. But our content really works from a perspective of short-form, and that's snackable. People just love to watch the Kardashians Sunday night, and then Monday morning get the bonus content, additional content around them, plus all the news that is a part of their family and what they do during the week."

E! is also finding that viewers prefer to use the network's site and apps to view content, rather than going to video aggregators.

"When we started going down the video path, we definitely had short-form video on our site. We also had a lot of content on providers such as Verizon with their V Cast service, and Sprint TV," Abrahamian said. "We've seen a shift away from us providing the content out to the aggregators, more towards a direct-to-consumer model, where people are coming to E! Online to get the content or the E! Online app, and really coming to us in a direct-to-consumer model."

For more on E! Entertainment's online efforts, watch the full video below.

Troy: Hi, everyone. This is Troy Dreier, Senior Associate Editor for StreamingMedia.com, coming to you from the Red Carpet at Streaming Media West in Los Angeles. We like to hold a series of Red Carpet conversations with industry leaders at these events. Joining me right now is Gerald Abrahamian, who is with NBC Universal, and works exclusively with E! Welcome, Gerald, and please tell the people what you do.

Gerald: So I run digital operations and product for E! Entertainment Television, and that focuses on all the digital aspects of E! Entertainment. So it's eonline.com, all the mobile websites, mobile apps. We have about seven apps on the marketplace. It includes our video distribution of content out to iTunes, Xbox, Sony PlayStation. We also have a big content syndication business that goes out to Hulu, YouTube, Comcast.net, pretty much any premium outlet that you can find on the digital space.

Troy: Now, Gerald, you were on a panel earlier today about what people want in online entertainment, and I remember they handed you that first question of what people want, and I was a little scared by your response. Do you remember what you said?

Gerald: Kardashians.

Troy: Kardashians.

Gerald: <laughs>

Troy: But it wasn't just that you were saying people like Kardashians, although they clearly love the Kardashians. But you were talking about snackable content online.

Gerald: Yeah. So most of our content that we have, from a network perspective, is snackable content, short form, content on the go. All of our long-form is behind paid walls such as iTunes or VOD networks. But our content really works from a perspective of short form, and that's snackable. And people just love to watch the Kardashians Sunday night and then Monday morning get the bonus content, additional content around them, plus all the news that is a part of their family and what they do during the week. So it's a strong brand for us and we expose it as much as we can.

Troy: Now, this is a fascinating time for our industry, because things aren't settled yet. We've got second screen viewing in the living room and we've got apps and YouTube and Hulu, and there's so many ways that people are getting content, Video On Demand, Netflix, and we don't know who's going to win and who's going to lose. But what is your view of how we'll be watching TV in 10, 20 years? What is going to be the model that emerges and does the best?

Gerald: Unfortunately, it's still in its infancy to figure that out. I think we're still trying to figure out what's going to happen in the next year or two. We're really at the foundation of what's going to happen in the next 20 years. Really things haven't been brought to light yet. So we're still trying to figure that out in the next year or two. We didn't know what was going to happen two years ago in terms of even in 2009 when the iPhone came out and the explosive nature of that platform. So we're still trying to figure it out and where the dust is going to settle. At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is get our content out all over the place and make sure that our consumer can consume it in any way that they want at this point.

Troy: So right now, what are the biggest alternate methods that people are watching? What are the strong shifts right now?

Gerald: The strong shifts, I think when we started going down the video path, we definitely had short-form video on our site. We also had a lot of content on providers such as Verizon with their V Cast service, and Sprint TV. We've seen a shift away from us providing the content out to the aggregators, more towards a direct-to-consumer model, where people are coming to E! Online to get the content or the E! Online app, and really coming to us in a direct-to-consumer model. Even the stuff that we are doing with YouTube, even though it's on the YouTube channel, we're spending a lot of time curating it, making sure the content is in the right way, so it's very much self-service for us as well.

Troy: Mm-hm. So you're saying people are watching you less on places like Hulu or YouTube and coming to you directly?

Gerald: I would say that all platforms are growing significantly. So it's not one or the other. We're seeing the growth rates on our owned and operated platforms actually higher than the other platforms. But for the most part, we are just seeing growth across the board. I think people want their content wherever they are. If they're on YouTube they'll be searching around. If they're on Hulu, they'll be searching around. If they're on our site, they will search around. So it's where the consumer is and we have to be there.

Troy: Mm-hm. And it sounds like you're not just selling a show or a site but you're selling a brand.

Gerald: Yeah. At the end of the day, we are brand focused. So the E! Entertainment Television brand celebrates the pulse of pop culture. So we really push that as far as we can. And each individual show is its own brand in itself. And we utilize the value to really engage with the audience and provide content that they really want to watch.

Troy: So where is E! putting it's online video development dollars right now? What are you building out?

Gerald: So we went through a big brand review and an audit, and we re-launched the brand in July of this year, and we spent a lot of time and effort on E! Online itself, and we felt like it hadn't been done for a while, so we focused really on E! Online itself. And with the July 9th launch, we've had three consecutive monthly increases in uniques, all of our stats across the board have surpassed our expectations. Usually with a site redesign, you see traffic numbers go down. But what we've seen is successful uptake in number. So we're very positive on our own site. So a lot of development is being spent there. We just recently launched a new section called "TV Scoop", and in the next few weeks we're launching another section called "The Trend," that is focusing on fashion, beauty and lifestyle.

Troy: Mm-hm.

Gerald: So we're definitely spending a lot more effort on our site.

Troy: What about "The Soup," my favorite E! property?

Gerald: Well, we just last year re-launched TheSoupTV.com and an app for "The Soup". We're spending a lot of time on digital initiatives around there, and really focusing on that as well. Two weeks ago, we re-launched "Chelsea Lately" as well, and focusing on that. And integrated with that, the content is seen on ZVOX. So we're using ZVOX as the second screen experience with that.

Troy: Very good. And so we can go to your site, to your re-design site, to keep up with the Kardashians?

Gerald: Yes, definitely. "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and all the other celebrity news and salacious information. Basically anybody who's getting married, like Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, you can definitely check them out.

Troy: Good. Well, thank you for joining me, Gerald. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from The Red Carpet.

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