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Why Niche OTT Services Have Key Advantages With Specialized Audiences

Two top executives of niche OTT streaming services agree that their platforms are important not only for providing an entertainment outlet for their target audiences at all times, but also as a means to elevate their communities with content that does more than simply focus on the struggles of minority populations.

“This is my job, 24/7, 365 days a year,” says DeShuna Spencer, the Founder and CEO of kweliTV, a streaming service that celebrates Black stories from around the world. “This is my community. It's not just because it's Black History Month.” Spencer believes that niche OTT streaming services are important because they carry programming relevant to their audiences year round, rather than only during observance periods such as Black History Month or LGBTQ Pride Month. These brief windows of specific programming make it seem to minority viewers that “you only care about me for this one month, but once the next month hits, then it's the next diverse flavor,” she says.

Spencer also notes that the content mainstream OTT services emphasize during annual minority population observances or periods of social unrest is not only too time-limited, but it may even compound the issues Black populations face. During the George Floyd protests of 2020, for example, popular streaming services focused on programming such as 12 Years a Slave and Green Book, films that depict racial hatred and discrimination. Spencer says that for a Black audience, “We didn’t need to see that. We wanted to see celebratory-type stories.” She thinks that this emphasis on negative experiences might only further traumatize viewers who have already dealt with similar struggles throughout their lives.

Damian Pelliccione, the CEO and Co-Founder of Revry, a global streaming network focusing on queer content and creators, readily agrees with Spencer on these points. They also emphasize the irony that for Revry, 40% of its annual revenue occurs during LGBTQ Pride Month, even though the service features LGBTQ content all year. Major streamers and advertisers view observance periods such as Black History Month or Hispanic History Month or Asian Pacific Islander Month as “editorial moments.” In contrast, on Revry, “We're talking about cultural stories. We're talking about what our culture looks like and we're trying to uplift and show positive depictions and stories within our own community.” Pelliccione also believes that the overall emphasis should be on getting consumers and advertisers to want to regularly participate. This is the core KPI for Revry’s programming and marketing teams. Pelliccione says that the goal is to get their viewers to not just watch in June, “But to really be exposed and be excited about everything else that we're releasing throughout the rest of the year.”

Ultimately, both Spencer and Pelliccione highlight that niche OTT services matter because they fill crucial programming and marketing voids left by major streamers who segment minority audiences into concentrated programming periods rather than consistently diversifying their content. By taking this limited approach, mainstream platforms lose the opportunity to hold on to subscriptions from diverse demographics. Niche services such as kweliTV and Revry are now well-positioned to accommodate these underserved audiences through a comprehensive understanding of their content needs.         

Learn more about niche OTT and monetization at Streaming Media West 2022.

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