Commentary

What to Watch: Rethinking Video ... Again

Moderator Joshua Rubin, Managing Director, Creative Strategy, Daily Dot, Panelists Evan Bregman, Director of Programming, Rooster Teeth, Jay Holzer, Head of Linear, Tastemade, and Tom Sly, CRO, E.W. Scripps

Rubin: Everybody is doing remarkable things in video. More important is to talk about the failure. Pre-roll is going to save us all. Facebook Live is the future. 

Bregman: Past year was the death knell of anybody relying on any third-party platform as your primary means of video distribution. At the end of the day, that platform only has about 45% of their interest in mind. Is there a different way to use this that benefits us holistically. 

Holzer: Not nearly as down on Facebook. Amazing partner for us. Live was something that we overembraced. We were creating things just because we could. It has made us look at Live with critical lens. For us, we like FB, not hug fans of Live, rightfully failed a little bit for them. Twitch embraced community interactivity early on. FB was hard to get on, had to do it from phone. Twitch made it seamless to get on, engage with users. Tastemade has spent 6 years creating TV shows on YouTube and FB, bullish about creating high quality content. Will be launching on all the major platforms in the next six months. 

Rubin: Scripps has massive scale, how much is video a factor in growth?

Sly: We’ve been learning pre-roll is still good. Some of our national brands start ramping up in video, sharing on FB, YT. We found that we couldn’t make it work financially. Once FB algorithms changes, it got difficult. Building a national news network for mature Millennials. All on OTT, 24 platforms, love CPMs on OTT. That’s the niche for us. Premium TV experience that advertisers can broadcast. Works just like TV, more effective than mobile. 

Video belongs everywhere, on your watch, your refrigerator. Content needs to be where everybody wants to consume it. I’m old school. I have Spectrum. I spend 75% of what I watch is OTT. Barely use Spectrum. Maybe catch some morning news.

Rubin: For news, video news, is it monetizing reasonably well?

Sly: P&G will not advertise on hard news. We can sell them lifestyle, weather, no politics, death. Back in the day, always a war on TV, Tide never didn’t buy space. Brands have gotten too, trying to stay away from conflicts. With Newsy, we’re talking straight down the middle, we’re not taking a side. We inform, not influence is our tag line. Advertisers like this. Although it’s a lot easier to built an audience if you take a side, we know that. Most brands are trying to stay neutral, you can’t alienate half the country.

Rubin: What’s it like being swallowed up at Rooster Teeth?

Bregman: Based in Austin, arm’s length from corporate folks. Best thing has been getting more focused. RT tried a little bit of everything, wildly successful. Today, let’s double down on what’s working. Means some future in, much broader potential being part of AT&T, long-term thinking. Now RT can fit that far out is freeing. Being positioned to scale up initiatives. Power of large, traditional media to broaden your efforts that you need at a certain point. 

Rubin: TV too expensive for digital publisher. But you gotta scale down, make something good and cheap, or just cheap. Happy medium?

Bregman: Job to make our core community takes ownership in their role as evangelists. In January, we’re coming out with the first season of “Gen:Lock,” Michael B. Jordan starring in it, we have people who know they helped make this happen. Piece of content, gigantic robots battling in the streets of New York. Broadest audience is on these third-party platforms, the audience of our audience. We start with smaller niche-ish willing to pay upfront for content, see it first, then we broaden assets where monetization gets lower but reach gets bigger. 

Rubin: Video is most effect at getting people down the funnel.

Bregman: We’re selling identity at the end of the day. Like MTV, our relationships with our fans is spectacular.

Rubin: How is Tastemade fostering community?

Holzer: Audience that watches Tastemade on FB, we hope it gets to our TV Experience. Creating content that is bespoke just for that platform. If you’re a fan in one place, we hope you’re a fan in another. It’s an advertising split, YT has access to a piece of our inventory. ESPN on OTT you constantly get the commercials. As platforms mature, have ability to sell, they’ll be national. 

Sly: We can switch between markets. We tell partners this is what you‘re gonna pay. Better than what we’re getting programmatically. We’re learning how to leverage brand sto help each other. Just had first sales summit up in the Catskills, talking about how we can work together, marketing, promotion. Scripps is decent size but nimble enough. 

Bregman: The Catskills?

Sly: Yeah, probably not the best choice but I’m not going to apologize.

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