William Sondheim, Greenfield Media
Stephen J. Kerr, Bel Age Medias &
Sarah Nean Bruce, Bel Age Medias
– 9 MINUTE READ (2200 words) –
What we found interesting in our discussions about Marketing for Streaming Media companies, is that every company is having to forge their own unique marketing path. There seems to be no formula to follow that ensures your Channel will attract and sustain subscribers, advertisers, viewers, and create brand loyalty.
For some, Marketing means building their brand through PR and Publicity on social media; for others it means promoting a specific show or live event; and, still, for others it means spending ad dollars on Facebook or YouTube to attract targeted viewers to their channel or specific shows. Some Streamers are blessed with strong brand names like: FUEL TV, FITE TV, REVRY.TV, or Shout!Factory. To them, promoting their brand and marketing their channels / shows is the same thing. While they do promote specific shows, PPV (Pay-Per-View) events, and personalities – everything is done underneath the umbrella of their brand.
William “Bill” Sondheim, a long-time media executive, who has built, run, and purchased streaming media companies, brings his own unique insider insights on how to build better streaming businesses.
Stephen J. Kerr, a 25-year veteran corporate and intellectual property appraiser, as well as an M&A intermediary, who has bought, sold, and valued streaming and home media companies, contributes his investment banking and rebuilding brands perspectives to this topic.
This fourth article focuses mainly on the marketing of owned and licensed streaming media content, and brands.
I. WHAT IS “MARKETING”?
Damian Pelliccione, Chief Executive Officer / Co-Founder Revry, Inc. (www.REVRY.tv): “Our money is usually better spent on places like YouTube, which is more targeted towards video consumers, when we're dealing with the kind of paid acquisitions on social. We are seeing a lot more opportunity on buying inventory, hero units, or featured placement via our third party platforms on which Revry has a channel. Revry has an allocation to spend money on places like Vizio, Samsung, or XUMO, etc.. We see a higher opportunity for the return on what we invest to acquire a viewer on those types of platforms. Independently, on the earned side, we are in the press, two or three times a week.
SONDHEIM: “When SVOD rose as the dominant income stream, driving consumer awareness become less critical because content suppliers were given flat buy outs, and title viewership no longer provided content suppliers with upside, because they had accepted a flat buy out from the SVOD operator. The shift we are now experiencing to AVOD once again allows content owners to participate in the content’s ratings, or performance, because they share in the advertising revenue generated. This makes consumer advertising and driving title performance critical once again, and the skills of placement and evaluation of advertising effectiveness are once again vital to profitability.”
KERR: “The world’s streaming media companies have adapted quickly to the changing marketing landscape for growing their companies. Many that started out 5 to 10 years ago as straight-forward subscription based channels, are now a hybrid of SVOD, AVOD, TVOD, Linear and even traditional cable, or broadcast. This has meant that their marketing resources have also been spread out over multiple platforms and partners.”
Don Meek, Global Chief Content Officer/President and GM--North America, FUEL TV Group (www.FUEL.TV): "There is a set of traditional media properties with whom we can partner to get the word out, and then there's a whole bunch of new content creators that have accumulated on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and other social platforms. And very often, it's important to them to get additional viewership on their content. In exchange for providing that distribution we’re able to get reciprocal marketing consideration from them, to let their core constituents know that FUEL TV is back. Our biggest opportunity now is to let our audience know that we’re back and how to watch us.”
PELLICCIONE (Revry): “My instinct tells me that the best use of our marketing dollars moving forward is in the third party environments where we have live linear channels like the Samsung TV Plus’s. Because my firm belief is that connected TV is the cable killer of the future. We're already seeing that kind of adoption because the consumer says, ‘Why buy cable when my television comes prepackaged with my new Vizio TV smart set?’ To me, that is the future, and then how that interacts with your Samsung TV and your Smart handset and your mobile Android device. TV Plus is killing the mobile market… and we're proud to be a partner.
→ Whether you rely on platform partners, content creators, or YouTube ad dollars, the ultimate responsibility for marketing your channel and programs remain with you.
II. YOUR MARKETING MACHINERY NEEDS TO FIT THE MEDIUM.
Michael Weber, Chief Operating Officer, Fite TV (www.FITE.TV): “Because we rely on a revenue share model, we give our partners the tools to help promote our shows. We have a database around 4.4 million users of our platform now. And so, we do a lot of grassroots direct marketing to our database.
“But, then we also do a lot of stuff with affiliate programs. Google Search, Facebook… and then, on another level, we do co-marketing, since our programming is now available on ROKU, Amazon, Apple TV, Vizio TVs, Samsung TVs and LG TVs. We work with all those partners to market shows because they take a piece of the revenue. We make everybody a true partner. We say, ‘Okay, so if you’re a partner and you're in the rev share percentage… then you need to help us market this event.’ The platforms are very responsive to that.”
KERR: “Most Streamers have witnessed phenomenal growth over the past three years and foresee more of the same in the future. As more Smart TV’s and gateway devices like ROKU, FIRE, and APPLE TV proliferate, so too do they. None of the Streaming executives that we talked to were as concerned about holding on to their audience, as much as they were getting ahead of the market and holding on to real estate that they have won on Smart devices.
“Marketing for them is a function of staying relevant and available to their audience. Social media is a big part of their outreach program, as is special features and maintaining a good image. For many, loyalty is a product of ubiquity. Social media is woven into the fabric of everything that they do. Their communications teams are working overtime to engage their viewers into their upcoming events, new shows, or content partnerships. No one seems to be all that worried about their subscriber base. In fact, the newer Streamers have eschewed the subscription model altogether, in favor of being everywhere the consumer wants to watch them.”
SONDHEIM: “Traditional revenue models like transactional-video-on-demands (TVOD) still remain an important source of income for many independent films and events – and it provides clear and measurable results when measured against marketing campaigns.
“While placement on these growing AVOD platforms has been seen as relatively easy compared to placement with the studio dominated SVOD Mega Platforms, the enormous amount of content now available on AVOD makes building consumer awareness even more important to ensure consumers watch your shows and content.”
Gene Pao, Senior Vice President, Digital Enterprises, Shout! Factory (www.ShoutFactory.com): "We use the popularity of the shows we offer, and the talent in those shows to build the Shout! Factory TV name... a good example is Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Shout! Factory TV.
“Recently, we acquired Ultraman, and while we're using Ultraman more to build TokuSHOUTsu, which is our newest channel, we're also putting it on Shout! Factory TV, and promoting it to people that we want to make aware of Shout! Factory TV.
“The second thing that we do with our content is that we create promotional stunts. So, like for Ultraman, we're going to be doing a big stunt on ‘Ultraman Day’, on July 7th. We're going to be featuring Ultraman episodes and we've got celebrities that are fans of Ultraman helping us create new content. This allows us to make an announcement about it and get people excited about it… as well as launch social media and paid media campaigns. And that helps us build the Shout! Factory TV and TokuSHOUTsu brand, depending upon what we're attaching to the show.”
→ Most streamers see marketing specific shows and events as the same thing as marketing their channel. The thinking is, ‘If they like our shows they will love our channel.’
III. IT HELPS TO HAVE OTHER MEDIA AND MARKETING PARTNERS PUSHING YOUR CONTENT AND YOUR BRAND.
MEEK (FUEL.TV): “In our world the traditional print publications that super-served each of our core verticals have largely disappeared.
“Today we’re working with digital publishers that are serving these verticals, including the likes of Surfline and Beach Grit and an assortment of brands who have actually stepped in to fill the void that was left by the death of print. We're also working with regional partners across all of our verticals in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and China.
“A great case study is how we’re working with the surf brand called ‘Salty Crew’. This month we premiered three of their films on three consecutive Thursdays, as part of our ‘FRESH@5’ block. In exchange they promoted our premium SVOD service ‘FUEL TV+’ in dedicated email blasts, where we were able to provide a significant discount to their community.
The audience is still just as engaged as ever, but we’re now faced with needing to find them across a variety of touchpoints.”
PELLICCIONE (REVRY.TV): “As you may know, there were three new networks that Philo launched just last week, ironically on 4/20. We have an internal Director of Communications who is constantly pitching stories to the press and media outlets. We obviously have a really good relationship with all the LGBTQ publications… most of which we have forged partnerships with. And they constantly write about either our newest content, platforms, or channel launches. So, it's a healthy blend of those two opportunities.”
SONDHEIM: “The distribution landscape continues to dramatically expand by leveraging several business models in this exciting digital age. AVOD and F-A-S-T Channel revenue is a direct outgrowth of how many people watch your shows, and the platforms have made it clear that suppliers are solely response for driving their individual traffic. The AVOD market provides an important new area of revenue growth that will eventually become the predominant income source for many of these independent suppliers.
“Companies that learn how to best target their ideal consumers using social media will be well positioned to weather the challenges that come from the transition to direct consumer engagement in the digital era.”
→ As the old adage goes, “You can’t be too rich, or too thin.” In the Streaming universe, “You can’t have too many friends in the media, or strategic partners to help you promote your content and your brand.”
IV. IT’S 7:00 O’CLOCK. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR VIEWERS ARE?
KERR: “One of the most important things that we have learned, while interviewing the Streaming Media executives, is that most of these Steaming Channels are not that concerned about holding on to their subscribers or viewers in just one medium, or on one platform. In essence, they are taking what the market is giving them and spreading their marketing dollars around to support those platforms and attract new viewers wherever they can find them."
PAO (Shout! Factory TV): “Measuring the effectiveness of our marketing is really tough. We do know that promoting certain types of events doesn't really drive a significant amount of viewership… but we believe it drives a lot of awareness… so it's hard to tell. It's not like we can do a marketing campaign or create a stunt, and then see our viewership increased immediately during or after the campaign. We do get additional viewership at the start, but it's not an overwhelming amount. It’s not like you're watching the NFL Network and they do a lot of heavy promotion for a new show… which generates a whole lot of viewership. For Shout! Factory TV It's more about building our brand and our channels.”
WEBER (FITE TV): “We do measure the effectiveness of our marketing and track our viewership quite a bit. We have very strong analytics on Pay Per View buys. What countries they come from, what platform the program was bought on, and all this kind of stuff. But we also know the other reason is our FITE 24/7 channel… which is essentially self-promotional. ‘If you want to watch more programs like this, here's what we’ve got going on this week’ They’re commercials to promote our other shows. So, it's another very grassroots way to market our Pay Per View programming, be it Impact Wrestling this Sunday, which will be a very good show… or a boxing match the following week.”
→ Measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns is easier when you are the one driving eyeballs to your specific channels and programs. You can look at the numbers in real time and know almost instantly if what you did worked. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t.
The world of Streaming Media marketing is not the same as the world of Cable TV, or Broadcast TV that came before it. As much as we like to compare this medium to its forbearers, it is not the same. For one thing, Streamers are often much closer to their audiences than cable or broadcasters ever were. Often they know their hits and misses in virtually real time.
Also, Streamers have a bevy of marketing partners to draw upon, including platforms, content providers, publications, and social media like Facebook and YouTube, that can be a megaphone in the right hands… or even consumers themselves, who not only decide what they want to watch, but can also drag in like-minded friends and enthusiasts.
The concept of “Event TV” was never closer to a marketing reality than it is when: FITE TV drops another “must see” cage match; Shout! Factory TV creates an Ultraman marathon; or Revry promotes a highly anticipated new LGBTQ series. Or as Don Meek of FUEL TV put it, “I’m not at all concerned with doubling or tripling the size of our viewership, I’m focused on the challenge of 10X growth. There are more than 300 million people in the world that are active participants in the sports that we put on air. All we have to do now is reach them.”
The right consumer marketing and the right co-marketing partners can propel your independent streaming channel towards triple digit growth. Perpetuating your Streaming Media channels across multiple platforms creates horizonal growth and awareness, while marketing specific programs and events creates vertical growth.
Both horizonal and vertical growth are essential to a Streamer’s success.
Looking for more capital, content, or other resources to help you make the right moves for your streaming media business?
Bill Sondheim and Stephen Kerr can assist.
- If you need a veteran media guru working alongside you to help fortify your streaming media business, or to initiate & complete licensing deals - please contact Bill.
- If you need a business or intellectual property valuation, IP acquisition / divestiture, or you want to discuss the sale of a company - please reach out to Stephen.
ABOUT: William “Bill” Sondheim – Greenfield Media – are content distribution experts who help producers and content owners navigate the rapidly changing entertainment marketplace with unique and current insights on SVOD, AVOD and TVOD exploitation.
This organization leverages the expertise of several industry leaders and provides content and cast evaluation, distribution strategies, marketing and social plans and Key Art development.
ABOUT: Stephen J. Kerr – Bel Age Médias / Business Marketing Consultants – specialize in Corporate / Film & Television Valuations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Business Plans, Investment Profiles, and Exit Strategies, as well as a broad range of other Investment Banking services.
Alongside his partner – Sarah Nean Bruce – Bel Age Medias Revives Underperforming IP, Rebuilds Brands, Creates Financial Projections, Syndicates New & Legacy Streaming Content, and Helps Emerging Media Companies Prosper.
1 – CAPITALIZING ON OVER-THE-TOP CONTENT DEMAND — BMC Online – By STEPHEN J. KERR - 09/11/2018
2 - STREAMING WARS CASUALTIES: CABLE TV CHANNELS ON CHOPPING BLOCK — The Hollywood Reporter – By ALEX WEPRIN – 04/28/2021
BAM News • BMC Articles • Greenfield Articles
HEADSHOT-LinkedIn_BillSondheim.jpeg – via Greenfield Media
HEADSHOT-LinkedIn_StephenJKerr.jpeg – via Bel Age Medias
Categories: #content #distribution #marketing #streaming #entertainment #OTT #streamers #worldwide #SVOD #AVOD #TVOD #FAST #linear #broadcast #marketing