Revry Takes the "Tribrid" Approach with its LGBTQ OTT Network
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person celebrations during Pride Month this year, but that didn't stop Revry—the only OTT network that focuses exclusively on LGBTQ programming—from celebrating. The last weekend in June, which typically sees the marches and festivals across the country celebrating the anniversary of the 1968 Stonewall rebellion, found Revry delivering 27 hours of live programming including the virtual Global Pride festival featuring Elton John, Kesha, Adam Lambert, former Vice President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza.
We spoke to Revry co-founder and CEO Damian Pelliccione about that historic weekend—which ended up drawing more than 57 million viewers on Revry, YouTube, and Facebook—as well as the growth of the network and some of the major changes it has made in the last six months. Those changes included offering more live programming with the help of Brightcove's Beacon, and we also spoke with Brightcove's Sara Larsen in a separate interview. What follows is an edited, combined version of those interviews.
Streaming Media: What's the programming philosophy behind Revry, beyond simply saying that it's an LGBTQ-focused OTT network?
Damian Pelliccione: The voice of our, the voice of our network is driven by authenticity, diversity and representation. We believe representation saves lives. And we're doing that by bringing a global platform to market for this community, which we know exists in scale. Our business is dictated by our community … and our community is very different than other communities. You know, the LGBTQ community in the United States alone spends over $917 billion in disposable income, (and the number is) $4.3 trillion globally. And when we break down the demographics, 13% of Generation X hard identify as LGBTQ. But one in five millennials, 20% of millennials hard identify as LGBTQ. And then one in three Gen Z, you know, that 13 to 23 mark, 31% identify as LGBTQ and 52% do not disclose their gender and do not declare their sexual orientation.
So where is their content and where is there opportunity that speaks to them and where are you meeting them, right? The type of content that you'll find on Revry is very different than anywhere else. We are sourcing and developing content that is not made for me, a white cisgender gay man. It's made for the breadth of our community, which is made up of all different gender identities, non-binary, female, male, everything in between, and also different sexual orientations. There's so many. And on top of that, different cultures, different languages, different walks of life. What we believe that we are doing with Revry is shaping the culture of queer through media or the culture of LGBTQ through media, and through that, telling really authentic stories.
"We believe representation saves lives," says Revry CEO and co-founder Damian Pelliccione. "And we're doing that by bringing a global platform to market for this community, which we know exists in scale."
Streaming Media: What kinds of multicultural stories have resonated?
Pelliccione: I'll give you some examples. There's this one beautiful piece of work that we have called The Other Love Story, which takes place in Bangalore, India. And it is about a very marginalized lesbian community in that region of the world. I had the pleasure of traveling to Mumbai last year for the Kashish Film Festival, which is the LGBTQ film festival in Mumbai, as well as doing a deal with [an entertainment brand] which we'll be announcing later this year, which is a major operator in that region. And during the opening night, I had some queer female filmmakers approach me to give me a hug and say "Thank you for distributing The Other Love Story," and what it meant to them from the social impact side.
And I said, "I'm so glad you enjoyed it. We can't wait to do more seasons and hopefully find more content that is like this, that is driving these messages forward." And she proceeded to take out her phone and show me her Tinder. And I'm like, "Wait a minute. Why are you showing me your dating app?" She [said] "I just want to show you the scale of the impact that one story had for me as a queer woman in India." And she filtered on Tinder for women who love women, because they don't even use the term "lesbian" there, not in the way that we do here in the West. And almost every single image was a still image from The Other Love Story. And it brought me to tears. It was extremely powerful to know the effect that we have as a platform on a part of the world that we are not even fully operational in, right? We're available, but we haven't marketed there. We haven't done anything other than exist. And I immediately woke up my co-founders in the West to tell them, share the story with them, and tell them how humbled I was. And this has not been the first story.
Revry makes a conscious effort to present LGBTQ stories that represent a wide range of cultural experiences, like Tiny Laughs.
Revry launched as a subscription-only product at San Francisco Pride in 2016, and the company started out using what Pelliccione calls a "template solution that will remain nameless" as their online video platform. It wasn't very scalable, nor was the company good to work with, he says. After a request from Lexus, which would eventually become Revry's largest advertiser, they needed a technology solution that would allow them to pursue a hybrid AVOD/SVOD model and could scale to larger audiences. After trying yet another online video platform, Revry turned to Brightcove and its Beacon solution, which Larsen describes as an OTT offering that is fast to market, covered a wide breadth of devices, and offered a simpler way to launch an OTT service than some custom-built solutions.
Streaming Media: What was it like moving Revry to Brightcove Beacon?
Sara Larsen: First of all, Damian and the leadership team at Revry are phenomenal. They know what the market opportunity is, what their needs are, and why they're entering that market. And it had a service that they had been offering. But they knew to get to the next level, they needed much more of a Netflix experience. They needed a better interface. They wanted to go into more of the "tribrid" model, in terms of the experience [live, SVOD, and AVOD]. They wanted to put live into it. And look, they don't have the budget of Netflix. And they don't have the resources of Netflix.
And so for them, Brightcove Beacon was a great opportunity to take the content and the audience they wanted to reach and do it withmuch more of a world-class user experience. And we brought them on board fairly quickly, and to also support their different monetization models that they have.
Pelliccione: Brightcove has been so wonderful to work with, and the team has been extremely receptive. And I will say I had a different perception of Brightcove … because you always see them as the Ferrari in the space. And they still are to a great extent, but what was amazing was that they were creating products now for the everyday consumer or distributor, like ourselves, to be able to create robust offerings and to give this new tribrid approach.
Streaming Media: What was the biggest challenge that you've faced, from a technical standpoint?
Pelliccione: I think the biggest challenge that we faced is having the ability to scale a product in a template solution, which usually is not something that you find. Again, I go back to "one size does not fit all. I think the biggest thing is, you need … the scalable approach. And you need to be able to do other things outside of just a single tier subscription. And I think the biggest problem with a lot of these template solutions is that they are taking a one-size, top-down approach. And that is not, I think, the future. Look, two years from now, we could pivot again. There could be some new form of distribution that either we don't know exists or is not very common use today, right?
Streaming Media: How important is a live offering, to Revry in particular but to OTT services in general?
Larsen: I think it brings an added dimension to the content. One of the dimensions it brings is when you look at live content, there is more of an opportunity to monetize it. It's a point in time. It's appointment viewing. And that appointment viewing … is going to draw a much bigger audience that helps you potentially in your AVOD model.
And so I think as the world of streaming has incorporated, and we all have multiple OTT services, and you have to get people to look at yours at a point in time that's relevant to what your monetization model is. And I think that's one of the things that was important to Revry and to engage their audience in that way.
Pelliccione: Live is super important to Revry in so many different ways. I think about me and my partner and the way in which we watch television. And I'm on the top end of millennial. And there is a certain fatigue that you get from going through your Netflix, your Hulu, your Amazon, your HBO Max, to scroll through to find something to watch tonight. But there's a comfortability about putting on a live linear channel, being curated to, whether or not you're actually paying 100% attention to it. But having something that is low lift, in terms of the experience, like just being able to turn something on, flip through channels, and find something to watch and leave on, I think is really the future. And it's still an attribute of each generation's viewing habits.
And when you have a linear channel, you typically have 90% to 100% completion rate on your pre-roll and your mid-roll ad inventory. And people, like I said, are watching and droves.
I can't tell you the amount of text messages we receive from friends, family members, investors, content creators, just random people since we launched Samsung TV Plus, where we're on the homepage. You turn on Samsung TV and the moment you scroll to TV Plus, you see that Revry icon. And they're like, "Oh my God, you're on our TV, it's so crazy." And so that has offered a massive opportunity for us, not just to distribute our content, but also to monetize our content with greater scale, because there is a lot of inventory available. But the difference is you need to put yourself into as many environments as humanly possible. And the way that we're seeing the future do that is through linear.
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