Over the last few years, video has become a key medium to drive engagement with users, underpinning the content strategy of companies that are looking to increase their reach and audiences across digital platforms.
Whilst YouTube still dominates the landscape, Ooyala, Brightcove, Kaltura and Vimeo are all strong competitors, allowing creators to monetize their subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD) and live-stream services via their own channels, using a range of options including micro-purchases and subscription billing.
Further to this, the rise of FireTV, Apple TV and Roku open up more avenues and channels through which to provide content, with the benefit that the platform is essentially managed on your behalf.
However, despite this breadth and depth of options, content providers need to think hard about their strategy to ensure they don’t fall into the trap of losing their business when a third-party platform changes course to meet its own needs.
Recent updates to Facebook’s news feed have hit publishers relying on their traffic hard, and it’s not difficult to find stories of YouTube content creators that have had their monetization features switched off because they have fall foul of updated terms and conditions.
With this in mind, we believe that it’s important that content creators always start from a base of their own video platform, and then syndicate outwards from there.
Having worked on several projects that have helped brands in the sports and media industries generate value and revenue from content they create themselves, this approach provides them with the ability to make decisions on how they monetise, and when, allowing them to control their own destiny.
Crystal Palace F.C. regularly produce content (over and above what’s available as part of official Premier League rights packages) that football fans want to consume – and the video element of this has increased tenfold in the past 24 months. Match highlights, interviews, press conferences, live streams of tour and U-23 games all provide an insight into the club that fans can’t get from other providers.
Their video platform, Palace TV, allows them to surface this content on both their own website, their official app, social, and moving forward on OTA devices. Crucially though, they have full control over how the content is displayed, who has access to it, and the content that surrounds it.
For instance, extended highlights of each week’s Premier League match are provided on Palace TV. With limited live games shown on Sky and BT Sport, and only short highlights available on Match of the Day, it’s a great chance for fans to see more of the game than they usually would, and the club are keen to provide this to them free of charge. But, in turn, they ensure that each user registers for an Eagles membership account before they can access the content.
This means that subscribers can be added to the database and marketed to with CPFC content. Further, by tracking engagement and understanding user behaviour across digital channels, the club can segment subscribers into groups to more actively target specific niches.
Live streams are also a great way to encourage additional revenue for the club. When a user logs in, the platform can recognise their membership level, and determine whether they are eligible to watch U-23 games live. If not, they are provided with an upsell message encouraging them to purchase the next membership tier.
If they don’t want to purchase a membership, then there may be an option for a micro-payment for that particular match, or to buy a recurring subscription for just that type of content. This is handled by integrating with the Stripe platform, which allows for quick and easy payments, and handles the recurring revenue and debit payments.
Owning your own platform also provides additional sponsorship opportunities. Brands are obviously keen to be associated with content that targets the same demographics that they want to reach, and football works very well in this area.
Being able to overlay sponsor graphics on video content (because you control the look and feel of the player), running pre- and post-roll ads, and providing sponsor logos and content in and around your video means that you have a strong advertising inventory. Match this with the ability to sell ‘packages’ of advertising across the platform generally, and this is a proposition that generate significant revenue.
Of course, there will be those that don’t believe that the costs for the setup and management of the platform outweigh the benefits; that the content is better served on social platforms with greater reach, who do the difficult, technical, work for content owners.
But I believe that it’s cheaper than most content owners think. A CMS like WordPress, as an example, has a range of third-party plugins that allow content owners to restrict content to specific user types, and can provide integration with as many different payment providers as required. Vimeo, for less than £1K per year, provides unlimited live streams, geo-targeting, and multi-casting to social platforms.