Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Why niche is nice for MCNs

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast October 08, 2015

Targeted SVoD services could be the next big thing, says Kate Bulkley

To say that the weather was changeable at Mipcom is a vast understatement, as Cannes coped with both severe flooding and bright sunshine in less than 48 hours.

Venues were waterlogged, hotels’ electronic key systems were down, but much worse than these middle-class problems was that the terrible storm claimed more than a dozen lives.

As the town recovered, a storm metaphor seemed apt to describe how quickly one of the newest parts of the video content and distribution business is changing.

Fullscreen and Broadband TV, two of the biggest online video creation and distribution networks, were both keen to talk up moving beyond YouTube to become multiplatform and multiple-revenue-stream players (mobile apps are the big area of growth).

They believe the new secret recipe is providing better curated and targeted platforms for niche fan bases. For instance, Broadband TV, which is majority owned by RTL Group and has a co-production deal with Fremantle Media, is ramping up an online news network called Outspeak (pictured), in partnership with AOL-owned The Huffington Post.

Broadband TV chief executive Shahrzad Rafati insisted her company is the “smart” Vice Media.

And Fullscreen founder George Strompolis said platforms that claim to be “in the business of serving everyone” don’t work unless you are prepared to spend billions. Even players like Netflix “are kind of boring” because they are trying to be too many things for too many audiences all at once, he said.

Fullscreen’s answer is to focus on the co-creation of original content with influential online talent for multiple platforms.

The company’s ‘hero brand’ in this new push is Rooster Teeth. Fullscreen beat other traditional media companies last year to buy the Texas-based online producer of comic web series Red vs. Blue, now in its 13th season and recently licenced by Netflix.

Fullscreen is keen to leverage the Rooster Teeth brand and fan base and will release its first feature film, Lazer Team, next year. Fullscreen is also giving Netflix a run for its money by creating a better-targeted SVoD service to appeal to the Rooster demo- graphic of mostly male gamers and comedy lovers.

Strompolis wouldn’t say how many subscribers the year-old service has, but he likes the model enough to be launching an another one: the eponymous Fullscreen is an SVoD service targeting women that is set to launch in 2016.

Traditional media company Lionsgate is also getting in on the targeted SVoD service trend. Last week, in partner- ship with the Tribeca Film Festival, it launched Tribeca, a US-only subscription movie service app. A second SVoD service in partnership with Comic-Con is set to launch to an international audience next year and will include original content as well as licenced series that appeal to the Comic-Con superhero and sci-fi fan base.

“We have to be part of the direct-to-consumer ecosystem,” says Jim Packer, president of worldwide television and international distribution for Lions- gate. “But I am not interested in a generic service. You need to home in on the great brands.”

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