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SMW '19: FandangoNOW Talks Mentoring and TVOD

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media West 2019. I'm Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor with Streaming Media Magazine and the founding executive director of the not-for-profit Help Me! Stream. And today, I've got with me Rema Morgan-Aluko. Rema, what's your title?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: I'm the Director of Software Engineering for FandangoNOW and Fandango.

Tim Siglin: I mean, a lot of people know Fandango as a place you go to buy movie tickets. What's FandangoNOW?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: So FandangoNOW is our transactional video on-demand streaming service. It's a service where people can have access to over 90,000 movies and TV shows, and they can buy and rent the things they want to see. We're available all over 200 million devices. And so we're really focused on making sure people can get access to the content they want to see whenever they want to see it on whatever device they have access to.

Tim Siglin: So it's a TVOD, what we'd call TVOD in this space. And that, overtime, has been a popular and then not-so-popular and then popular again, iTunes, if you remember back in the day, with renting for 24 hours, Amazon Prime. So is the intent for most people to watch it, say, sitting in front of a TV on a set-top box, or to watch it on their tablet when they're not connected to the Internet?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Yeah, I think both. So we're focused on making sure the users have access to content wherever they are. So if you purchase a film, we have the highest number of 4K content out there in the industry. And so if you have a premium set-top or a premium TV device, you can watch a full-length movie on our platform. Also, you can watch your content, maybe you didn't finish at home, and maybe you want to continue that when you go somewhere else. You can watch it on your iPad. You can watch it on your mobile device. It's really available everywhere. We expect people to watch it wherever they are.

Tim Siglin: And are these 24-hour rentals, 48-hour rentals, or actual outright purchases?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: They're both. So we have full-length movies that you can buy in 4K or HD or SD, and we also have rentals. So when the movies fall out of window, in the theatrical window, they're available on our platform to purchase right away, whereas, on a subscription service, you might have to wait a year before you get access to the content. And we have it for the entirety of time. On a subscription service, if you were looking for a particular movie, that may not be there on that platform, but you can find it on FandangoNOW.

Tim Siglin: And I think, in the past, it's sort of been that notorious Blockbuster window that we had where you had to wait through. So you're saying that, as soon as it's out of theatrical release, people can pick it up on yours?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: People can pick it up on FandangoNOW.

Tim Siglin: Nice. Nice, nice. And are there limitations if somebody starts to watch it and then doesn't complete it? Do they have a certain period of time if it's a rental to actually do that completion?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: So if it's a rental, we give them 48 hours to begin watching the film, and then once they start, they have 48 hours to complete. So they have like 30 days before they can chose to watch it, and once they start, it's 48 hours.

Tim Siglin: Then it's 48 hours, yeah.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Yeah.

Tim Siglin: It's interesting. I ran into a situation on a international flight last year. Somebody had downloaded content from Netflix for their two-year-old daughter on the tablet. They were sitting in the seat behind me. Went to show the daughter. It didn't work, and the mother was saying to the little girl, "I don't know why it's not working. I started it up last night and it worked fine." And apparently, it was the 24-hour window, and she was was 24-hour-plus-one.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Yeah, yeah, that's a tricky thing to be aware of.

Tim Siglin: It definitely is. So the other thing that I think we wanted to talk about was mentoring. And, as I understand, you're doing some things internally at Fandango on mentoring. Tell me a little bit about that.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Yeah, so, about two years ago, I co-founded a group called Fandango TECHWomen. And so it's a group that is focused on providing opportunities and exposure to women within the company and across our entire enterprise. But also, part of that, we pair up employees with senior leadership and give them opportunities they wouldn't normally have. And so they have mentors with executives. They get exposure to ask questions about what's going on in the company, how they can be helpful, and also, those executives learn more about them and how they can help them as well. And so this is great partnership. And the other part that we're doing is actually making sure that we are helping out the community. So I think it's really, really important to make sure that we share what we're doing with a younger audience so that they can strive to become interested in technology and interested in things like streaming media in the future.

Tim Siglin: Sure, sure. So is it females lower down in your organization paired with females higher up in the organization or female-male?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: So it's everyone. So all senior leadership, both male and female, are participating in the program. Both women and men who are entry-level or even mid-level in their career also have the opportunity to participate in the program. But we're really focused on providing the opportunity and the access that women wouldn't normally have in their companies.

Tim Siglin: And were you able to take advantage early in your career of mentors, and how did that help you?

Rema Morgan-Aluko: So, actually, I didn't have those opportunities. And now, being more senior, I understand that I have a responsibility to people who are coming behind me, and I think that that is something that is really important, and TECHWomen is something that's really, really dear to my heart because we're helping to do that and provide those opportunities that I didn't necessarily have.

Tim Siglin: Okay, good. And so one of the things that I mentioned to you just before we went on air is, as of last year, there is a group that was founded by a lady who's a senior executive in the streaming industry and a few younger ones called Women in Streaming Media. And there's a group of us who do a monthly podcast called SM Advanced Forum, and we made a commitment a year ago to make sure that every time we have guests on, we have one male, one female so that we keep that equal representation within the industry. It turned out--

Rema Morgan-Aluko: That's awesome.

Tim Siglin: As this has grown, they did an event in New York a few months ago that was 300 women, tech women from the New York area came, and so that kind of thing might be a really nice tie-in to what you're doing internally to your company.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Yeah, absolutely.

Tim Siglin: And I'll make sure that we put you in touch with the people who are running that.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: That would be great. I think that there's a lot of power in the making sure that both sides are represented in all areas, and, even today, I've been noticing that moderators are even having trouble finding women to actually sit on their panels and--

Tim Siglin: We have to sometimes make a concerted effort to do that--

Rema Morgan-Aluko: We have to make an effort.

Tim Siglin: Because what we tend to find is you'll get a non-critical mass of women in the industry, and then because there aren't those mentoring opportunities like that, they get discouraged and drop out of the industry and then another group comes in. And so finding a way to actively encourage that, I think mentorship is one of the best ways to do it.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Mentorship is one of the best ways. I think, really, exposure is it. I think there's more women out there that are working at this and building at this. They do have the opportunity because people aren't aware that they have those skill sets, that they have that information, that they will be valuable. So I think both of our groups are going to be working really, really hard to make sure that we elevate those women, and so they can be in positions like this in the future.

Tim Siglin: And for me, it's personal. It's making sure that my daughters actually have the same kinds of opportunities.

Rema Morgan-Aluko: Of course, when you look at her, you want her to have every opportunity possible.

Tim Siglin: Right, absolutely.

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