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SMNYC 2024: Tastemade's Evan Bregman Talks Independent Streaming Alliance and Standardizing Measurement

At Streaming Media NYC, Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, sits down for an interview with Evan Bregman, General Manager, Streaming, Tastemade, and Founding Member, Independent Streaming Alliance (ISA). They discuss the fast growth of Tastemade’s streaming service and the ISA’s aims to define standards and overcome hurdles in the streaming industry through collaboration and standardizing measurement in a fragmented ecosystem.

Siglin says to Bregman, “Tell me a little bit about yourself. Let's talk about Tastemade and then about the Independent Streaming Alliance.”

Bregman tells Siglin that he leads streaming at Tastemade, which has been around for about 12 years, with streaming beginning as a business for them in 2018. “I joined the company less than two years ago to centralize that team,” he says. “It's now the fastest growing part of our company. We reach 13 million viewers worldwide every month. Four channels in the US are focused on food, travel, and home design, and then there is Tastemade in Español. Then we have an international presence, including a local language channel in Brazil produced out of our studio in Sao Paulo and an international English language feed.”

“And so are the channels here in the States both on cable and streaming or just streaming?” Siglin asks.

“Just streaming,” Bregman says, “But we're on all the major Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (vMVPD) as well as all the major fast platforms. We're the most distributed streaming lifestyle channel.”

The Independent Streaming Alliance and its aims

Siglin asks Bregman to describe the Independent Streaming Alliance.

“The ICA was founded about a year ago by a bunch of independent streamers,” Bregman says, “folks who had been in the streaming world longer than anybody who are, by our very definition, completely independent, not part of the major media corporations. We came together because we saw that our ecosystem was approaching a point where we needed to be collaborative. We needed to start defining standards in order to overcome very predictable hurdles within the development of any kind of ecosystem [where] if we were to overcome them, we could really push the entire ecosystem forward. We all wanted a seat at the table, and together, we have a pretty broad reach. We’ve had a pretty successful first year just comparing notes and trying to understand how we can approach the various different very large corporations that we all interact with on a daily basis. Folks like The Trade Desk, as well as all of our various different distribution partners.”

Siglin asks, “What's the end goal with ISA, besides comparing notes? Are there economies of scale in terms of distribution or production?”

“It really is about finding areas where we can use our kind of collective might to push the industry forward,” Bregman says. “There are business decisions that are completely outside of the realm of antitrust or anything like that where we can just kind of say, ‘Hey, this is the standard that we are all going to agree to because we think that it's the best one. And if we all say that this is how it's going to happen, then we can probably move the industry in that direction, in areas like measurement and distribution, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and demand.”

Standardizing measurement in a fragmented ecosystem

“I had a conversation earlier today where we were talking about Nielsen,” Siglin says. “You've been around the industry long enough [to know] that there were attempts to try to figure out how to take measurement in aggregate across cable, broadcast, and streaming. And a number of those attempts were publicly rebuffed because of the simple fact that whoever was getting the ratings felt like they weren't in the right position. How would you all, as smaller independents, look at analytics and ratings?”

Bregman says that cohesive measurement in the currently fragmented media ecosystem is very difficult and that the ISA is primarily focused on coming up with measurement standards and transparency. “So things like how do you measure branded content in a streaming environment? On top of that, we've become pretty focused on transparency. So, within the realms of our confidentiality agreements with our distribution partners, it would truly elevate the competitive landscape for us to understand a little bit more about what is going on between all of our various channels, even if it's just in a relative sense and even if it is completely anonymized. The comparison for this is what the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) built for the Electronic Sell-through (EST) and the Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) world, where all the major media companies came together and anonymized their data according to very predictable rules.”

“That's actually very heartening to hear that the smaller players are able to band together and have some influence in that,” Siglin says.

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