Many networks seem to be going through some form of rebranding these days. G4TV became The Esquire Network just over a year ago; Fox turned Speed Channel into Fox Sports 1; and NBC’s Versus channel became NBCSN just a few years ago, making it a primary source for sports entertainment.
Now it’s ABC Family’s turn. The channel, which has provided its fair share of original programming and popular Disney films, will become Freeform in early 2016. With the rebranding, the channel is hoping to reach out to an audience between the ages of 14-34 or, as the team calls them, “Becomers.”
According to a press release from ABC Family, the name Freeform was chosen because it “speaks to the mindset and attitude of what the channel has defined as Becomers. Traditionally, Becomers are in high school, college and the decade that follows and are navigating the wonderful, fun, exciting, and scary time in life when you experience the most firsts first car, first apartment, first job, first love, first heartbreak all the firsts that exists between who they are and who they want to become. Becomers represent a life stage rather than a generation.
“Eleven years ago, ABC Family was ahead of the curve when it began super-serving Millennials to become their entertainment staple. Today, nearly 70 percent of 12-34 year olds are millennials, but in five years, millennials will be less than half of the target. Becomers are 69 million strong in the U.S., with an estimated spending power in the trillions. There are two billion Becomers worldwide.
“Freeform personifies this fluidity and will deliver ideas, forms of content and ways of interacting with the brand. Freeform is inspired by the interconnection between content and audience, media and technology, interactive and linear, life stage and life style and the way Becomers interact with them all.”
“Freeform evokes the spirit and adventure of our audience,” says ABC Family president Tom Ascheim. “Freeform will deliver new, exciting original content as well as all the favorite shows our viewers already love on ABC Family.”
ABC Family hopes that the social media push it’s gotten from its many shows will stay intact with the new name. The press release indicates that it’s become the number one entertainment network on cable television, with shows like Pretty Little Liars dominating social media. It has over 144 million engagements and 3.7 million followers on Instagram, and also has the number one scripted show on Pinterest with over 172,000 followers.
The question is if the outreach to Becomers instead of millennials will work. With a number of the channel’s shows sticking around and new ones likely to be crafted around the Freeform message it’s still bound to be popular. We’ll see where the rebranding takes it when it happens in January 2016.
When it comes to legends of eSports, the name Johnathan Fatal1ty Wendel is top of mind. One of the first eSports players to break through to the mainstream playing games like Quake III: Arena, Counter-Strike, and Unreal Tournament 2003. The 12-time world champion was able to parlay his success in pre-livestreaming days into coverage on MTV s True Life and CBS 60 Minutes. He also used his expertise as a gamer to launch Fatal1ty Gaming Gear, which creates and distributes PC gaming gear like mouse pads, motherboards, and sound cards.
While that business is still doing well, Fatal1ty is back in the spotlight as a coach in Legends of Gaming, the debut series of Endemol Beyond USA s YouTube channel, Smasher. The new online series pits popular YouTubers like The Jovenshire, Syndicate Project, Terroriser, and runJDrun in gaming competitions hosted by YouTube star Toby Turner. The collective cast of the show has over 43 million followers and is a new effort by Endemol Beyond USA to blend eSports with YouTube personalities. This concept is based off the UK Legends of Gaming series and has changed the format to focus on multiplayer competition instead of one-on-one competition.
Wendel talks about the new series, as well as the rise of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, in this exclusive interview.
How have you seen YouTube open up new opportunities for gamers?
Back when I played professionally you had to be best in the world to make a living playing games. Now gamers can find new ways to be pros through having entertainment personalities on YouTube without being the best game player.
Why did you always remain an independent pro gamer?
I was offered to be on teams, but I chose not to because of the value I saw in owning my own IP and owning myself. In 2002 I launched Fatal1ty Gaming Gear and today we still sell products worldwide. We have new Monster Headphones deal this year. I was on a different path than anyone else because I had a vision to make a brand for gamers.
When you look at eSports today, teams own the players. The players will join because of security of salaries. You don t see lone wolves any more like I was. The Syndicate Project is a guy who kept all his rights for himself. Even YouTube personalities own their likeness and their IP, but they re a different kind of entertainment property. For the gamers today, it s hard to break out in the pro circuit.
What impact has livestreaming had on eSports?
When I played in all the early tournaments, you could download the demos from those matches. The spoiler had already happened and you knew who won. It doesn t have the excitement of who s going to win and who s going to lose. In my era, I was able to capture MTV, 60 Minutes and Time and get my story told through video, which was the only outlet we had back then.
Pizza Hut is the primary sponsor for Legends of Gaming. What has eSports opened up for sponsors and advertisers?
Back then we had the eyeballs, but it wasn t as crazy as today with Twitch and YouTube and what we re doing with Legends of Gaming. It s opened up the door for the blue chip sponsors like Pizza Hut to connect with this audience.
What do you feel separates Legends of Gaming from anything out there?
It s a show that s very unique and has different people that specialize in different types of games. You have famous YouTubers competing against one another in an eSports platform. It will bring more eSports viewers. It ll show the competition side. League of Legends fans will be interested in this show for sure, but overall it s going to be entertaining and competitive for a lot of people. You don t know what s going to happen next.
When people watch Legends of Gaming they re going to be inspired by the action and the fun that they see, and they ll end up wanting to play and compete as well. This show is going to inspire a new generation of eSports players.
What games are you focusing on for this show?
We re focusing on a wide range of games from shooters like CS:GO and Doom 3 to FIFA 16 to Hearthstone to random games like #IDARB — games that are competitive, but not necessarily eSports.
What do you feel will differentiate your Fatal1ty Monster headphones from the competition?
I ve been selling headphones for over 10 years with Creative Labs and we ve been selling 10,000 to 30,000 headphones a month for a long time. All the stuff we invented for my headphones you see in other headphones now. We can bring something unique to that gaming space and bring that Fatality brand to gamers like we ve been doing now for over 12 years. This has been my business since 2002.
It s my legacy and my true story. A lot of these companies that are trying to get into eSports are suits who want to get into this space because there s an audience and money there now, whereas I m a gamer from eSports that started my own company. I was the highest paid gamer for 10 to 12 years. The brand became its own star. When you think Fat1lity, you think gaming. That s a credibility I bring to Monster. They wouldn t get into eSports by themselves. Monster doesn t have a gaming division or anything to give them credibility. I want to work with their engineers and designers and develop a Fatality product. I ve done all of my partnerships the last 12 years this way.
What are your thoughts on the $6.5 million the top team took home from the $18 million The International this year?
The prize money behind Dota 2 and League of Legends is amazing. I made like $110,000 in my first year and in 2005 I made over $200,000. Then DirecTV came to me and wanted me to be their Championship Gaming Series, so I left the pro scene to do that. The eSports scene died shortly after that. I made a smooth transition to promoting eSports. I ve been promoting eSports my whole life. We did deals with DirecTV to have Fatal1ty commercials and helped us get into Best Buy and other retailers.
What role do you feel TV will play in eSports with ESPN and TBS getting involved?
It s interesting because all of these gamers are fine watching their TV shows on the Internet. It doesn t have to be on CBS or ESPN. TV has been trying to dive into our world for a long time. But Twitch is our ESPN. We watch eSports on the Internet. The only reason for eSports to go on national TV is to get more eyeballs.
Where do you see eSports five years from now?
ESports is always getting bigger every year. Five years from now, I believe that gaming will become more recreational, much like what you see with other sports. For example, I m a tennis player and I play on a league. I believe we ll have rec leagues for gaming. Gaming and eSports will become more recreational and competitive, event for the casual player who just wants to be a part of a team. It s the evolution of what we do as eSports players. ESports really is the sport of the 21st century.
There’s been plenty of announcements and excitement over virtual reality (VR) during the past year, and with the impending arrival of several major platforms — Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC/Valve Vive, and Samsung Gear VR — we will see some time next year how the consumer VR market begins to emerge. Yet there are drawbacks to VR, such as the complete immersion required, and the price of the hardware that may be in excess of $500 in some cases. Many analysts have speculated about the future size of the VR market, and while that may well be in the billions, many believe the market for Augmented Reality (AR) will be even greater, perhaps several times larger.
The hardware competition for the AR market is already under way, though it is behind the VR market. Major players include Microsoft’s HoloLens (with development kits to be made available early next year for $3,000) and the still-mysterious Magic Leap, which has over $500 million in funding but has yet to talk much about what it’s planning. On a smaller scale, yet perhaps closer to market, is the hardware from CastAR, which recently landed $15 million in funding from Android creator Andy Rubin’s Playground Global investment firm.
Cast AR, formerly Technical Illusions, was founded by former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, who left to spin off the company after Valve decided not to pursue the technology. They’ve got some lightweight glasses that you use with a special reflective material that you can lay on a tabletop, and the result is magical — you can see an overlaid image generated by a computer. “Sometimes we try to use analogies like “remember Star Wars holographic chess ,” said Ellsworth.
The key to CastAR’s thinking is that they want the technology to be used broadly, not just for gaming but for design, engineering, and other fields. To their way of thinking, this means accessible hardware that’s not complex and has a low entry cost. “Among all the confusion about what separates AR from VR, what’s lost is fun,” said CEO David Henkel-Wallace. “People want a simple, accessible, fun solution that they can just pick up and play with their friends, without dealing with a bulky, uncomfortable headset, much less being tethered to a big computer. Our goal is to see CastAR on store shelves across North America, aligned with some recognizable brands in tabletop and interactive gaming. Playground’s support will help us get there.”
Ellsworth sees reaching a broad demographic as an important goal. “It’s hard to back up after you’ve catered to the hardcore people,” Ellsworth noted. “VR has done that, they have a perfect niche in really hardcore game players but we’re taking a different approach. We are going to hit the hardcore gamers. A hardcore gamer is going to go and play their intense VR thing but they’re also going to have fun playing Settlers Of Catan on CastAR. We’re going to get my father, we’re going to get people who are 40 years old, mothers, children that are eight years old crushing things with Tonka Trucks. I think we cover a broad spectrum.”
That broad market appeal is part of the reason that Rubin invested in the firm. “I was really intrigued by David, Jeri, and Rick’s approach to tackling the problem of how to drive mainstream adoption of AR,” said Rubin, the former Google executive and now managing director at Playground Global, in a statement.
Marketing AR is certainly one of the key issues ahead for CastAR. “I think it’s going to boil down to influencers out in the market are going to drive it,” said Ellsworth. “There’s going to be some early adopters and then they’re going to take it over to their friend’s house and their friend will be like ‘that was so fun, I’m going to go and get CastAR.'”
Of course, getting more people to pick up CastAR’s product is going to require some friendly pricing. The company isn’t saying yet what price point it’s looking to hit, but they definitely are aiming for consumers. “A $1,000 gaming PC to go with your lenses isn’t a consumer product,” Henkel-Wallace said. That may mean the emergence of several different versions of the hardware. “We don’t know if we’re going to be able to achieve something an eight year old can use but it’s on our radar,” said Ellsworth. “If we make it good for an eight year old does it make it so that someone who is eighty years old can’t use it It’s a balancing act. Somewhere farther down the road there could be customized versions, economy, kid versions that they can just break and destroy, and then the pro gamers that have to have the best.”
Now that Jack Dorsey has returned to Twitter as its permanent CEO, his first initiative is to create “moments” that not only grab the eyes of the site’s millions of users, but also potential brands as well.
Ad Age has reported that Twitter has begun rolling out the feature, which will organize certain tweets around live events through special feeds labeled Moments. With it, users can look to see different live-event feeds that are collectively put into categories, including news, entertainment and sports. With one swipe, they can look through these “moments,” including text, photo, videos and Vine clips, that relate to said event.
“What we want to provide is a simplified way for users to get instant value from the platform and literally get the best of what’s happening on Twitter right now,” said Matt Derella, vice president of sales for Twitter. The section “should be a very easy way to catch up with what’s happening in your world with one tap.”
Advertisers will also be able to take advantage of the “Moments” tab through “Promoted” posts, but they will run over a 24 hour period through the various live events, so that they won’t wear out their welcome. Twitter already indicated that it has several brands (which they didn’t name) set to place these ads.
“What it’s actually going to be is a dedicated piece of real estate within the moments guide where a brand can curate a series of different tweets or Vines to actually tell their story,” said Derella. The brands can decide how they want to use these moments, such as tweets that relate to an upcoming film or music festival.
“This is going to be very different than a search text ad,” added Derella. “This is going to be videos, images, and should provide a canvas for brands to move people and shift their hearts and minds.”
Promoted moments can also be shared with other people on Twitter, as well as publishers’ sites outside the site. However, they won’t include the ability to use interactive cards or Periscope lifestreams — at least, not just yet, according to Derella.
The campaign, also named “ProMos”, will begin running at full strength soon.
There is, however, some slight concern that these “moments” will reflect similarities to the ones found on Snapchat. Re/Code recently ran a storythat compared the two, and, some slight text aside, they appear to be pretty much the same thing.
That said, the author, Peter Kafka, explained, “So is it a bad thing that Twitter’s first big move in the New Jack Dorsey Era is a product that works like one of its competitors I don’t think so: Live Stories may be Snapchat’s most promising feature, and if Twitter can integrate its own version into the service, that seems like a plus.”
Both technology and data play big parts when it comes to marketing these days, as companies can utilize these to get the most out of their business operations. eMarketer recently broke down just how important they are through a pair of reports.
First up, the reports discussed big data, with information coming from Forbes Insights that breaks down just what companies are doing with it. The report showed that 21% of those polled indicated that big data was the most important factor to them when it came to gaining an advantage, while 38% of companies polled said it was definitely in the top five.
As you can see from the chart, both costs and revenues play a part when it comes to the effect of big data, although most companies indicate that the effect isn’t too big, going somewhere between one and three percent. Only one in four noted changes that went above three percent.
As far as what types of data are embraced the most by companies, location based data leads the charge with 56 percent, while text (emails, fax and PDF) and social media follow closely behind with over 40 percent each. The full chart is below.
Out of what kind of data is most beneficial, VentureBeat noted that email address and name information for personalization purposes are the most vital, while Jivox added that, in a study taken back in July, ad agency executives were more likely to utilize demographic and location data to create specifically targeted ads. Yes, Lifecycle also added that first names and phone numbers played a part as well.
“Big data empowers marketers with a better understanding of target audiences from current customers to expanding into new markets,” said Ayzenberg’s Charles Vasquez, speaking with (a)list. “It moves beyond traditional demographics such as age, geography, income and into more precise characteristics such as behavior, consumer choices and preferences. The opportunity is a much more personalized communication delivered at the right time, to the right audience and in the right way.”
“For game marketers big data can be key for both product launches and deploying an effective always-on strategy. Big data can be used to target the right audience, shape your message and improve your offerings along the way. For service-based games this constant and direct interaction with core audiences is invaluable. All the while it helps to build a profile of new markets to tap into new markets,” he added.
That’s just one side of the picture, as technology also plays a huge part when it comes to finding effectiveness with companies. This report from eMarketer, based on numbers provided by a September 2015 study conducted by Spear Marketing Group, suggests that, while content marketing is still considered the most important marketing technology for the next couple of years, some will face a decline. This includes SEO, which is set to drop around nearly 30% over the same time period, and CRM, taking an even more drastic drop by almost 40%. The full chart is below.
As far as technologies that will grow over the next few years, predictive analytics are likely to see the biggest jump, doubling to almost 37%. Big data and analytics, lead lifecycle and attribution reporting, programmatic advertising and personalization are close behind when it comes to B2B marketing.
Emerging technology is definitely playing a part in this department, and there are a number that are expected to deliver ROI over the next couple of years. The chart below shows that marketing automation is number one with 58%, followed by content marketing (51%) and SEO (36%).
However, not every technology is benefitting on this chart, as CRM has somewhat low ROI expectations at 23 percent, indicating that it could easily be lapped over that time period.
Not to be outdone by other companies this holiday season, Microsoft held a special event this morning that showed off a number of the company’s newest announcements, including a Surface Pro model that comes with an attached keyboard, as well as more information on its innovative HoloLens technology, which will soon be available to developers.
Microsoft’s major announcements:
First up, Microsoft discussed its Xbox One console. Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles over the past month set to arrive this holiday season (including those devoted to the Xbox One Elite controller, Halo 5: Guardians and the just-announced Fallout 4 bundle), and several games were featured, including the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider, a high-profile sequel that will be an Xbox One exclusive for at least the next year. A new trailer was also released, and is featured below. Expect plenty of hype for both Halo and Tomb Raider leading into the holiday season.
HoloLens, an impressive virtual technology that was introduced earlier this year during the company’s E3 press conference, is building up steam. A new demonstration showcased just how deep gaming can be with the device, particularly Project Xray, a game where users interact with a “mixed reality robot.” Although a release date and price weren’t given yet, development kits are set to make the rounds in early 2016, going for $3,000. (The consumer price and release date has not been announced, but hopefully the price is going to be less than this.)
Microsoft then re-introduced the Microsoft Band, a tool that will help those performing athletic feats to keep track of their body through a series of measurements. It looks custom built for those looking to get the most out of their workouts, but also comes with support from other companies like Uber, Twitter and Subway, opening up its capabilities outside of exercising. It will also coordinate with a Health app on Windows 10 that keeps track of progress and other activity. This device will release on October 30th for $249, and should get quite a bit of hype from Microsoft between online advertising and promotion within its Microsoft Stores.
Two new Lumia smartphones, the 950 and 950 XL, were introduced, with 5.2 and 5.7 inch displays, respectively. Each will have 32GB of storage, with USB Type-C connective technology. The models will sell for $549 and $649 and be available both online and in stores this November. They should get a moderate amount of hype, but not as much as, say, Apple with the iPhone 6S. The Lumia 550 will also see a price drop down to $139, starting this December. The key feature for these smartphones is their ability to connect to an external monitor and keyboard through a small adapter, making them functional as a full Windows 10 device (albeit ARM-processor based, so not compatible will all Intel-based Windows 10 applications).
The Surface line has produced $3.5 billion in business for Microsoft, so, of course, it wants to keep a good thing going especially since 98 percent of those that use a Surface Pro device recommend it. With that, it introduced the Surface Pro 4, with improved visual technology, faster processing (by 30 percent over the Surface Pro 3) and other features, as well as its own Microsoft Pen, which features “1,024 points of pressure.” The separately sold keyboard will also have improvements, including a bigger trackpad and larger space to type, as well as new colors. Pre-orders for the device will open up October 7th, ahead of its October 26th release, where it’ll sell for $899. Microsoft will hype this one heavily, including potential TV advertisements.
Finally, another Surface model was introduced, this time a devoted laptop called SurfaceBook, featuring an incredible display (6 million pixels and 267 PPI) at 13.5 inches, along with backlit keys and 12 hours of battery life, as well as a detachable screen. It’s set to release on the same day as the Surface Pro 4, October 26th, starting at $1499. It’ll probably get its fair share of advertising as well, probably coinciding with the Pro 4.
Overall, Microsoft looks like it’s serious about not only its gaming side of things (where it’s attempting to catch up with Sony’s PlayStation 4), but also computer technology, where it’s brushing elbows with the likes of Apple. If it can get the right advertising program in place, and spread word of mouth across social media in terms of how impressive it is, it could have a very good holiday season.
It’s often said that the great challenge for mobile games these days is discovery — standing out amidst a sea of other mobile titles, and somehow becoming the game that people download and play. Really, though, that’s not the entire problem — it does a company little good if a hundred million people download a game but the game doesn’t monetize. Ultimately, it’s monetization that pays the salaries of everyone in the game industry, not downloads. At the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, CEO Jon Walsh of Fuse Powered offered some insights into optimizing monetization — indeed, Reinventing Monetization for mobile games was the name of his talk.
“The industry is just scratching the surface of what a freemium business model means, how to implement it, and how to monetize in a way that encompasses the entire player lifecycle and gives players a great experience,” Walsh explained. “This is genuinely possible and is the next evolution of the freemium model: players pay to experience a game in the way they want to experience it.”
Walsh began by explaining what’s all too often wrong about how mobile game publishers approach monetization. “There’s too much data,” Walsh noted, “and you don’t know how to use it to make a better game experience.” Modern analytics make it possible to collect mountains of data about how people play a game,yet it’s in the proper analysis of that data you find better monetization. It’s not necessary to collect every possible scrap of data, and indeed that can make analysis more difficult. Asking the right questions is the most important task.
What’s happening in the industry is not just increasing sophistication on the part of the publishers when it comes to gathering data, Walsh argued, but it’s also increasing sophistication on the part of the audience — and increasing expectations.”Give players what they want and expect, and do it quickly,” Walsh said. That’s what they increasingly expect — and demand — from mobile games.
Walsh pointed out that there are two main sources of monetization in free-to-play mobile games: in-app purchases (IAP) and ads. Both are important, though all too often publishers neglect the potential for advertising in mobile games. Many times publishers seem to be cautious about advertising because they fear it might harm the game experience for a large part of the audience. “You have to take ads seriously, because in most games than can be a material source of revenue,” Walsh said. “Players want rewarded video,” he added, because many players are restricted in what they can spend. For that sizable segment of the audience, mobile ads are a benefit that they appreciate, not something they skip past.
While publishers worry about retention of players, there’s more to the concern than just keeping players around longer to have more chances to get their money. “Engagement drives monetization,” noted Walsh. “The reverse is also true — without a great monetization strategy you will lose players. In fact, it’s a cycle.” This is most clearly seen when players have opportunities to move forward in a game, and there’s something they can buy that will help them achieve something important in the game. Yes, they won’t get to that point if the game is not engaging — but they may not keep playing if they don’t see a way to get what they want. If you don’t make the right offer at the right time, you could be harming retention.
The way to maximize monetization, in Walsh’s view, is to customize it to the needs of the individual player. “We are in an era of personalization. People want to be unique,” Walsh said. “Players are diverse — they want different things at different times. It’s not just minnows and dolphins and whales, but lots of variations and we have to be able to react to that.”
The answer lies in the tools that are available. “Technology cam help create a playbook to drive more revenue,” Walsh pointed out. You have to understand your players, create segments around those players, and deliver the right offers at the right moments to the right players . “You have to measure the right things — a few will give you a lot of control.”
The options for your playbook depend on the game, as the illustration shows. For instance, a simple puzzle game that has a huge volume but no IAP should focus on advertising. A game like Candy Crush Saga, that has high engagement and massive volume but a low conversion rate should be looking at special offers as well as advertising that allows players to help earn power-ups. Something like Hearthstone, which has high engagement, high conversion, and a high average spend, should be looking to larger offers that have a strong value to the players.
Walsh summed it up this way: “Define the player path, present specific offers, adapt to your players, and give them what they each want.” Good advice for marketers looking to make the most from their games.
Tubular Labs has certainly come a long way over the past few years with its video intelligence platform, attracting big-name enterprise customers like Spotify, GE, HarperCollins and Mattel in the process. Now, it’s announced that it’s expanding its operations to another coast.
The company has opened up a new office in New York City, where it will be able to serve clients better on both the West and East coasts. Tubular’s senior vice president of customer growth and success, Marc Schraer, will be heading up the new office.
Leading a seven member and rapidly growing sales and customer success team, I am thrilled about what we can accomplish by having a prominent presence in the East Coast, said Schraer. With over 80 brands, media companies and MCNs as enterprise customers, Tubular is the standard in video intelligence. Being in New York allows us easy and frequent touch points with existing and potential new customers.
We recently had a chance to talk with Schraer about the new position, as well as what this could mean for future business for Tubular.
First up, we asked about what kind of factors will come from the increasing demand for video metrics and intelligence. “With more than 50 million videos uploaded every week, there’s no doubt that digital video has exploded in the last decade,” he explained. “A number of factors have contributed to this growth, including proliferation of high quality mobile devices, low cost of storage and multitude of social platforms (from YouTube to Vine to Instagram).
“Now anyone and everyone can shoot, edit and share video anytime, anywhere. With such a large amount of video content comes a large amount of data. This data needs to be analyzed and turned into actionable insights that brands, media companies, MCNs and creators can use to formulate the right online strategy and reach their audiences effectively.”
Traditional broadcasters can get a lot of useful data from Tubular’s services as well. “Broadcasters need insights to help them compete in the online world and create content and strategies that resonate best with their audiences who are increasingly online and mobile. Without Tubular data, they’re blind to who is creating online video content (including their competitors), what types of content are resonating with their audiences and how the dynamics vary by platform,” Schraer explained.
As far as how important the expansion is to the company, “New York City is the geographic center for many of our global media company and brand customers, so being here enables us to spend more time on location with them.” This includes a number of hot clients that will no doubt take advantage of Tubular’s assets.
Regarding just how the business will expand and the potential of drawing in new broadcasters Schraer stated, “Our business is rapidly growing. We are looking to make our offering available to more broadcasters, as well as brands, media companies and MCNs. Being in NYC is naturally a plus in this regard as New York is a hub for global media and broadcasting companies.”
To conclude, we asked Schraer to provide an outlook in terms of where video-oriented business would be going over the next few years. He replied, “As stated earlier, online video is exploding. In fact, by 2017, over 74% of all online content is expected to be video. As more companies turn to video and use multiple platforms to better reach their audiences, we expect them to have a larger need for powerful data analysis and actionable insights to increase their ROI.”
YouNow’s network shouldn’t be confused with what Facebook and YouTube are doing with their video services. Instead, it concentrates more on a simple live-streaming service, and encourages its users to interact with their audiences as a result. And now, it’s got a financial boost that will certainly help it along.
Re/Code recently reported that the New York-based YouNow service has managed to raise an additional $15 million in its latest funding round, led by Venrock, Oren Zeev, Comcast Ventures and long-time investor Union Square Ventures.
As a result, according to YouNow CEO Adi Sideman, the company has now managed to raise $30 million since 2011. While an exact total of fundraising hasn’t been given, it’s estimated to be around $150 million.
Sideman also didn’t discuss how many users the service had, but he did note that it generates “significant more than” 100 million user sessions per month, a rise from the previously reported 90 million in September 2014.
The company follows a different business strategy for revenue. Instead of relying on advertisers or asking its users to pay for a subscription, it instead offers virtual gifts, which users can provide to the performers at hand. As a result, some performers also get some of this money as well which is prompting a few YouTube users to give it a try, to see how they’ll fare.
Venrock’s David Pakman believes this is a sound business development, as it doesn’t have to really change its format based on advertising plans from big companies. “You effectively have a native business model,” he stated. “It doesn’t ruin the experience, it’s part of the experience.”
It also means that the company can maintain a stable audience without having to gun for a first place lead which takes a lot of pressure of trying to keep up with the competition. “This can be very economically successful at relatively low user numbers,” Pakman added.
We’ll see just how well they fare as their numbers continue to rise in 2016. Maybe it’ll attract even more YouTube and other streaming stars as well, just to see how far their interaction with fans and their fanbase in general can expand.
Thank you for your continued support and readership.
-The AList Team
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