Discovery's Old Video Finds A New Life

The last time I talked to Joel Holland, the company he started called VideoBlocks was just embarking on a new thing.

The $99-a-year video clip subscription service, the first in the business, was adding Marketplace, an add-on that encouraged videographers who usually who sold their clips to established stock house to supply them to upstart VideoBlocks, too.

VideoBlocks offers the camera people an interesting sweetener.

While VideoBlocks charges its subscribers an extra $49 per video from these new suppliers, the shooter gets to keep 100% of it. That’s a hard offer to pass up, and for subscribers who use the service, it is a good deal, too. The price of those same videos is far cheaper than what they would pay at a conventional video stock house. (VideoBlocks also has 6,000 videographers in its stable.)

Well, that’s worked out pretty well.

Since Marketplace went live in the spring, over 2,000 contributors have registered, uploading more than 300,000 high quality stock video clips. Holland says his company has paid out $1 million to them as their part of the deal.



Now, Holland and Greta Pittard, his new head of content and contributor relationships, are working on a new project.

They’re curating more than 30,000 video clips---unused material, mostly---that’s been shot for Discovery Communications over the last 30 years. That new royalty-free material is a treasure trove of nature, geography, urban and wildlife video. That stuff, from animal scenes to volcanoes and a lot more, will gradually become available to Marketplace users as it is sorted out and categorized up there in the Amazon cloud that VideoBlocks uses as its storage locker.

Like VideoBlocks, Discovery is based in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

That partnership, with Discovery Access as its stock footage arm is called, might be just the tip of the (artfully shot) iceberg, Holland and Pittard believe: VideoBlocks intends to make similar deals with other cable networks and other place that are stuffed with video that often isn't marketed very aggressively. Those archives, or  just the remnants, could be a major revenue source for VideoBlocks but is just might not be worth it to a content maker that wants to trim its fat library.

To help growing. VideoBlocks earlier this month closed an $8 million funding round, led by North Atlantic Capital. Holland says the company will use the funding to further accelerate the growth of Marketplace and explore new content verticals.

That means added emphasis, probably, for its other businesses, GraphicStock and AudioBlocks, that work much the same way VideoBlocks does.

Not surprisingly, the general explosion of amateur video makers is helping this business. VideoBlocks’ customers include ad agencies, small video entrepreneurs, like colleges, churches, hobbyists, and some bigger names like MTV and NBC.

Some of their best clients are using the stock video on their YouTube pages, and in turn, YouTube pages are used for marketers big, and definitely small. VideoBlocks has 120,000 members who Holland says download an astounding one million clips a month.

Holland has an oddly unique perspective on trends in the video business as reflected in what kinds of clips are coming in and going out: Two trends Holland sees at the grassroots level is an increase in interest in time lapse video, spurred, he thinks, by the opening credits of “House of Cards.”  Also trending, unsurprisingly, are drone aerial shots that are changing the standard ways urban areas are visualized in video establishing shots.

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