CES 2014: Revolt TV and Hulu Give Advice on Younger Viewers

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Attracting younger viewers can be key for online content providers looking to satisfy brands, but doing it well means being nimble, aware of trends, and on top of social networking conversations.

Speaking on a CES 2014 entertainment panel hosted by Variety, Jake Katz, vice president of audience insights and strategy for Sean Combs’s Revolt TV, said that knowing the new rules of engaging with millennials is crucial for his network. His group takes those lessons to brands, helping them understand the new rules, as well.

Responding immediately to trends is definitely part of the new rules. TV networks have project development cycles of around six months, Katz said, while Revolt TV’s cycle is in hours. His team will see an interesting trend in the social networks, “assign a SWAT team” to it, take the idea to its in-house studio, and have video on the site in hours. The finished piece is posted the same day the trend is observed.

“We actually launched in social,” Katz said. Revolt TV is now in its infancy, which he considers a luxury, since the brand hasn’t established a firm identity yet and can test out new ideas. Revolt TV doesn’t need to pivot to become something new, since it can still change direction at will. The site relies on a core group of superfans to let it know what works. Music is Revolt TV’s focus, and the site’s producers are dedicated to creating conversations the viewers can’t get anywhere else.

Attracting young viewers is also important for Hulu, where the median viewer age is 35, said Charlotte Koh, Hulu’s head of development. The site recently branched out and began creating original content.

“We’re at this very crucial part of our evolution,” Koh said. Hulu is serving an audience that doesn’t listen to critics, but does listen to its social networking peers. When promoting “The Wrong Mans,” a show it produced with BBC, it made the unusual step of turning to Klout. Hulu offered a select group of Klout influencers early access to the show and watched as half of them promoted it to their social networks. “It was incredibly successful for us,” she added.

When creating or promoting shows, Hulu relies on audience data. That data helps narrow down the vast menu of options, giving viewers choices they can manage.

“Choice is good, but not too much choice,” Koh said.

The Hulu team knows that it can’t rely solely on data when making new shows, as it wants to create content that’s new and fresh. It’s an art and a science, Koh said: the science shows where viewers have an interest, while the art is in knowing how to push the envelope.

Jake Katz of Revolt TV and Charlotte Koh of Hulu

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