Do you have video content on YouTube and are overwhelmed with the idea of recreating or repurposing content for greater CTV and OTT opportunities? CTV—or Connected TV—is a technology platform such as Roku, Amazon Fire, Android and Apple TV. OTT stands for Over-The-Top content, or the streaming content pushed through those platforms.
It’s growing like crazy as a medium and an advertising platform, and is a perfect way to build a brand and push out creative content. But, if it’s growing really fast, why isn’t everyone doing it?
People often have many reasons for not giving OTT/CTV a try: “It’s a lot of work to get content on CTV and OTT. I don’t understand technology. I don’t have the time. I don’t want to take the time to figure it out.”
YouTube is part of OTT, it’s an app-based service. But, there’s opportunity to syndicate your content beyond YouTube. We find that often many YouTube creators just don’t know muvh about the additional opportunity yet. But at the end of the day, revenue (CPM) within the CTV ecosystem is just so much higher. It’s definitely worth a look.
If you’re already creating content, the leap from expanding from something like YouTube to a larger Connected TV strategy is not as big as you may think.
Answer Media CMO, Ryan Riggin, sat down for a few drinks and a chat with Eric Keith, President of SPACEMOB studio to answer all your questions.
What if my content is not in “episodic” format?
There seems to be this unspoken requirement within the CTV realm that say you’ve got to be at least 12 minutes; and they’d rather have 22-minute episodes. So what if you’ve been doing 3-minute episodes on YouTube? That is where SpaceMob comes into play. When we partner with you, we’re going to retrofit your content to be packaged properly for those channels. It may be combining a couple of your episodes, or even cutting one of your episodes in half. Whatever the right strategy is to maximize the profitability and the ad pods without hurting the creative constant. But there are natural breaks in most content where it would make sense to say, okay, we can do a second act or a second part.
What about short films?
As a short filmmaker, and we’ve made several, you take them to the festivals and the awards, the competitions, and you get acknowledgement (or you don’t). And beyond that there just hasn’t been much to do.
We offer a service to help short filmmakers promote their movies to as big of an audience as humanly possible. With the analytics being what they are and the films being so short, if we started putting them in collections for CTV, it would get very complicated to break out whose film made what amount of money in the current Roku system. Instead we simply promote short films. Currently we’ve got about 100 lined up from a couple partnerships with different film festivals, so we’re going to have a lot of short films coming through our system. Hopefully we can see a CTV channel in the future.
How does a short-film promotion deal like that work?
It’s literally just a free license. The filmmaker is granting us the right to distribute their content on a non-exclusive basis. Legally we could take it anywhere, but we’re only going to put it somewhere where the content would make sense for independent film or short film.
Does SpaceMob ever have to flat out rewrite a film, add to it, or edit in a big way?
Answer Media owns a significant part of Capstone Entertainment Group that does independent feature films. And on the feature film front, we either help raise money to make the movie or physically produce the movie, or we help with distribution. So it’s been mostly independent films, feature films. It’s been a real nightmare–basically since 2008–for the smaller films to make any money. You get a distribution company to like your movie, you sign a deal with them that basically states that between $25,000 and $50,000 worth of expenses are going to come off the top before you ever see your rev share. And then the rev shares come out as 70/30 essentially— 70% to the filmmaker, 30% to the distribution company.
We’ve helped film rework themselves to get that type of deal. But it’s been a little disappointing over the years. We had a conversation last night with another filmmaker who’s having this same experience. He’s produced a handful of films, none of them end up seeing any money, even though they’re generated some revenue.
Thank goodness there’s this OTT opportunity. For example—we had one of our films come available yesterday, it’s a comedy. It got pushed through the traditional film distribution channels. It was on Amazon Prime, it did Hulu and Vudu and was sold in Walmart and Best Buy stores. And it got a little bit of buzz, but we never saw any money from it. We met with the filmmakers yesterday and decided to put it through the Answer Media partner network for the OTT/CTV space and see if we can generate some sort of ancillary revenue from that.
What other creators would make sense for you to move from YouTube to other OTT channels?
There’re two groups that I think of automatically. There’re the groups that are crushing it on YouTube, and then there’s the groups that aren’t seeing much success for one reason or another. There probably a lot of people that fall in between. Our deal is non-exclusive, so really there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want additional revenue streams, right? It is a little harder to get a big time YouTube series to want to risk their current revenue stream. But we are having those conversations and expect more of them to move over.
A new partner of ours, called The Big Honkin, is a sketch comedy group and they have sketches that are two or three minutes long. The question is, how do we take these two or three minute YouTube sketches and do anything with them? We’ve actually worked with them and they reconfigured their own content. Because it’s comedy, it has a certain timing and they really wanted to have control over that, which I totally understand. And they made some fantastic episodes. I think we have, I don’t know, six or eight episodes of their series now. And it’s like Kids in the Hall. I mean, it’s Saturday Night Live, Kids in the Hall with really funny guys that just for whatever reason YouTube hasn’t taken off for them.
What does it look like for me to get from A to B? What’s the process?
I mean, the process, you do a deal, you sign an agreement. You give us your content. We create thumbnails and log lines and that sort of thing to promote so you have a nice presentation on each of these apps. Roku, Apple TV, Android, make sure that we have the right specs for each one of those devices and everything looks nice as we go out. And then the sales team goes out and it’s almost like television, the real sort of network television business where you go from provider to provider and you pitch the content that you have. And the providers either accept it and say, yeah, we’d love to take your show and give it a test, or run it, or not.
And the great thing about us right now is that we’re pretty young, like we’re building out our content more and more and we’re creating a ton of original content. But if you have a show and you come to us, we still are at the point where we’re growing and our sales team gets excited about new stuff coming in the door. So not sure I said that the best way. Like, if I’m a content creator, which I am, and I have the opportunity to work with people that have a sales team that are stoked to get my stuff in the door and to take it out for a spin, that’s a good thing.
So you syndicate shows to other channels. Do I need a channel myself? Can you help me understand that and how to navigate that decision? Where does that factor into my strategy?
No, it’s a good question. I mean, it comes down to economics, right? Of whether or not you should probably have your own channel. It’s like some people just want their own channel, they don’t care what it costs and they have the money to cover it. It’s no big deal, right? Other people need to know what that breakage points is where it makes sense for me to have one versus not have one.
Building a channel must be a pretty decent technical hurdle, right?
You either have to have someone like us that can do it for you. We do have a program for people with a large audience, so big publishing companies or big brands, anyone who has an audience that could be activated to use their Roku channel or they’re Apple TV channel or whatever the case may be. And we actually create those channels for those companies or for those individuals out of our own pocket as part of a revenue share deal. We somewhat take away the risk.
What about brands? We feel like brands should be thinking like media companies, especially in today’s environment. Help me understand the thought process of, if I’m not a creator already, if I don’t fit that YouTube creator profile where I’m already creating regular content on YouTube. But maybe I’m a brand, commerce company. What should I be thinking about or asking my agency about regarding creating original content so that I can get into this space?
Brands really should be thinking like they’re content creators or media companies. What stories can they tell that would impact its audience or consumer? So coming up with creative ideas that might reach them, or educational programming about your product or field.
I think there are two steps to any strategy for a brand around this whole space. And this is my opinion. Create some content, like some sort of series, whether it’s educational, whether it’s narrative, whether it’s just silly. But create some content and then send it through a syndication group like ours and see how that performs. If you start getting engagement and users, either let us create a free channel for you and let’s do something on a rev share, or create your own channel and activate an audience that way.
Talk to us about your engagement model. If I want to create content for YouTube, or for whatever channel, video’s expensive and it’s hard, it takes time. I got to have a writer and all this stuff. Why is your engagement model different?
We consider ourselves to be a content studio, both for content creation and content distribution. Right? The word production company kind of has a negative connotation for us only in the sense that it reflects your typical brick and mortar, local company that spends their money on trucks and cameras and lighting equipment and all that stuff. And we’ve done our best to invest in talent. We’ve created a network of North of 1,500 contributors across the country that are editors, directors, directors of photography, producers, photographers, so on and so forth, voiceover artists, UGC contributors.
And that’s where we’ve spent our time and energy. And the reason that matters is it helps us keep our costs down. We have no interest in being the bargain basement production solution, but we are able to be less expensive as a result of our choices, that we’re not blowing money on stuff that a lot of the freelance talent out there already has. In terms of helping people create content, we’ve been able to say to our partners on this, on a sort of OTT/CTV side and on the other side of our business, hey, we can help you create ongoing programming at a reasonable cost. In some cases we’ll produce it as a Spacemob originals. And in some cases we’ll just help provide discounted services.
As a brand or whatever, you don’t need a video, you need a video strategy, right? Like one video probably isn’t going to do much good. But if you commit to video and build a process for making video regularly, then that’s going to get you where you want to go. Rather than having one $30,000 video, I’d rather have 10 smaller videos that over time accomplish a goal.
I completely agree. I mean, that’s exactly our strategy.
This has been a great conversation. Where can people find out about Spacemob and learn more about what you guys do, and how to get rolling?
Yeah. So we’re going through a website redesign, but our current website has a little bit of information under the distribution tab, and that’s www.space-mob.com. And that’s probably the best place. Or send me an email and it’s, firstname.lastname@example.org.