Video: Best Practices for Building Out an OTT Business
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Titus Bicknell: First and foremost, don't do anything you can't measure. The key principle of, in the words of Dolly Parton, "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap." It's very hard work to make your solution look and feel simple, so make sure that anything that you're doing, whether it's a particular piece of technology, a particular piece of marketing, a particular piece of branding, you can measure exactly how it works.
I think the beauty we have in the SVOD space is that we have availability of data and access to information about how our audience is engaging with us that none of the traditional providers have had in this 50-year span we've talked about. They've relied on the Nielsens of the world to give them a sense of how well they're doing, but Nielsen numbers, as we know, are sampled from a very small set of users. I know data about every single person who watches my service. Not just a sampling. So I can really drill down and go, "Okay, that piece of content worked. That piece of content continued to work. That piece of content made it to a second season and still worked. Now I might actually commission a third season, because I know how well it performed with my audience."
The traditional model for us is, these are shows are made by British, Australian, Canadian broadcasters, from a funding perspective, and we then buy windows that allow us to exploit them in SVOD and home entertainment spaces. So we saw a show, it rated pretty well, it had good critical reviews, it came to our service, and it was the most watched thing on our service in six months. The UK broadcaster didn't pick it up for a second season, because as far as they were concerned, it was not a success. We go to the producer, we say, "We'll fund it." Because we know we can make a success of it. And that's an access to data that we're disproportionately able to change our business on the basis of. So that was the first, probably the first and most critical piece of it.
From a content provider's perspective, the only advice I would throw out there is that the big three are spending an awful lot of money to keep your content out of the market. You know, if you had made a film or a TV series five years ago, you could expect to have maybe a theatrical window or a TV broadcast, certainly a direct-to-video VOD experience. Some tail in home entertainment, and then the great gravy train of SVOD exclusive and third-party non-exclusive to work through. If you do a deal with Netflix, they're putting a ton of money on the table to take you out of 90% of those windows. And if you make content, that's not a good thing. They will drop your piece of content into an ocean of content, and it may or may not get visibility.
I would just make the point that if you can work with an organization that has exploitation across wider windows, chances are your content value and visibility will increase--even if the check on the first day is not as big.
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