Syndicated Video Can Make Exclusives More Valuable For Online Services

With all the short-form VOD and OTT services that have launched lately, the media always eagerly asks what exclusive content will debut on each. However, asking about a new service’s syndicated-content strategy may actually tell you more about how these companies are thinking and operating.

TV networks have spent billions on long-term rights to the Olympics, the Oscars and other event programming. These and other exclusives are designed to lock in advertisers for big dollars during upfronts, maximizing network profitability.

The console-game business similarly has thrived on exclusives, such as Super Mario on Nintendo, or Halo on the original Xbox.

Cut to 2016. The boom in online video as traditional MSOs jump into IP-based video services. Like previous generations of media, much is written on the exclusive content or windows that these services have locked up.

Many services are hiring creators from YouTube, Facebook, Vine and elsewhere to make something new and available only on their site. It’s a great hook for advertisers and viewers to come to a platform.



However, there are downsides to services composed only of new exclusive or original content:

1) New content is risky. It’s difficult for even the most talented creators to consistently generate enough great new material to fill up a service. In the TV business, most new pilots and greenlighted shows fail. Even award winners from online platforms create bombs sometimes.

2) Talent / format fit. To create new content with known talent, companies often wedge the talent into a new kind of offering, say a vlogger acting in a scripted show. It sounds great at a New Front presentation and it can work. However, a given creator’s particular skill set and audience expectations often mean their original formats from YouTube outperform new concepts.

3) Sufficient volume for long-view sessions. In a world where vast short-format libraries naturally pour into YouTube and Facebook, how can you commission enough exclusive content to compete? The goal is not a dozen hits, but enough content to drive a wide variety of viewers to have long multi-view sessions on your service daily.

These factors are exacerbated by the fact that in a digital world, there are unlimited options, including the original shows that rose to the top over time on YouTube and Facebook. Viewers are one click away from these social sites, which will instantly serve them personalized content with proven high consumption performance.

What’s to be done?

VOD and OTT services looking to build a library of high-performance content should devote equal effort to syndicating existing material that has proven itself on other digital platforms.

Digital short-format syndication has several advantages:

1)  Past performance as a predictor. We are fortunate that digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have massive data sets of past content performance. In the world of digital short-format syndication, you can pull in that data, build a model and iterate it over time to correlate performance between other platforms and your own

2)  Mix content for longer view sessions at lower cost. By intelligently suggesting a mix of known syndicated content with exclusives, a company can keep viewers watching longer without always having to feed them exclusives. You may even be able to find syndicated content that outperforms exclusives for view time.

3)  Deliver niche content that modern viewers expect. Today’s consumer expects to click into an app or service and find a range of content incredibly targeted to their interests. It’s impossible to commission exclusive content for every niche. However, it’s very possible to license syndicated content across a wide variety of niches.

New OTT and VOD services, especially those backed by big data from MSOs and telcos, are sitting on a huge opportunity. They have the data on their users and the ability to mine content data from the largest video platforms in the world.

This means they need content teams that not only bring the best practices of traditional acquisition and original content development. They also need analytical programming talent to acquire, test and refine their syndicated content strategy.

So next time you see an OTT or VOD service launching, don’t just ask for their headlining exclusives. Ask what their plan is to create a high-performance library of syndicated content.

Next story loading loading..