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The top industry takeaways from 2015

From the "me-toos" of the digital world to how brands have taken back the internet, StreamDaily looks back at what the experts taught us this year.
December 23, 2015

They say the only constant in life is change, and that couldn’t be more true of the streaming world in 2015.

This year saw the emergence of subscription as the preferred VOD platform, from NBC Universal’s Seeso to YouTube Red. It also marked the rise of Vine, Snapchat and Facebook as formidable challengers to YouTube for our collective video-viewing attentions.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki called it right when she said this was the year of “mobile, mobile, mobile.” The Google-owned platform had some serious competition for viewer’s hearts and eyes on the small screen from the likes of Verizon’s mobile-only Go90, and tech giants such as Yahoo and Alibaba.

Forbes’ first-ever ranking of the top earning YouTubers provided proof that there are indeed millionaires emerging in the digital space, with young men and women with crazy names like iiSuperwomanii and the Jenna Marbles attracting branded deals by the dozen and signing on for book deals and feature-length movies.

It’s no longer unusual to see SVOD originals like Transparent and Orange is the New Black among Emmy and Golden Globe nominees (and winners) — and, as subscription numbers reach new heights, companies like Netflix and Amazon are signing big Hollywood names to their original productions.

Live streaming and virtual reality have slowly transitioned from niche to must-haves. And, speaking on niche, SVODs serving special interests such as cheerleading, horses and Krishna Consciousness have all become the new normal (though the jury is still out on the likelihood of their success).

Helping make sense of the shift, StreamDaily has compiled a collection of some of the most interesting quotes from industry experts we’ve heard throughout 2015.

On originals

HBO kind of started it off. It put money into its original programming and look where it went. When Fox launched its television network, it was a bit of a loss leader, but it got them into the game. It should be seen as a marketing expense to bring people in and retain them.” — Manatt Digital Media CEO Peter Csathy on what he calls the “HBO model” for  original programming

We have licensed content exclusively (before), and put our money on the line in exchange for those rights, but now, I think, it’s not just about financial resources. It’s the weight and influence of our brand and putting the company’s mark on content that we, as an organization, believe in passionately. — Sam Toles, VP content and acquisitions development at Vimeo, on the platform’s move into original production

On branded content

Reza Izad_5-13-15“Authentic” may mean something very different to us than it does to a brand. We can use “authentic” in a million different ways. But the core creative voice is where a lot of the misunderstanding occurs.” — Collective Digital Studio co-founder Reza Izad

“Advertisements are, by definition, interruption. They’ve decided that they don’t want to be interrupting the content people watch, they want to be the content people watch and they’re very smart by pairing with publishers like Buzzfeed to make videos that are actually really engaging.” — Tubular Labs co-founder Allison Stern on how brands are taking back the internet

I think the days of ‘spray and pray’ are over for brands and agencies. Not only can it be pretty ineffective, but it can be far more damaging than just the cost of the media you are doing (the ad) work with. It has a lingering effect and leaves a bad taste in consumers’ mouths and you are opening yourself up as a brand to disintegrating some of the brand loyalty that you’ve built up probably over years. — Richard Raddon, co-founder and co-CEO, Zefr, on the emergence of YouTube Red.

On emerging platforms

“There’s a lot of eagerness to just try something for the sake of trying it without really investing in it, and you see that in a lot in video. If you’re not willing to go all-in on something, then you’re never going to be successful in anything. If you’re not willing to make an investment, you’re not willing to reap benefits.” — Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein on the “me-toos” of the streaming world.

On who you’re creating content for

“Short-form content plays well with kids, and it’s not because they have short attention spans. It’s because they like to have a lot of different things to choose from and quickly move on to the next thing.” — Kathleen Grace, chief creative officer at New Form Digital on why young viewers are so influential in the VOD market.

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“It’s so tricky to say you’re just going to go after one group, because, on the internet, (the time span) is so short in terms of what becomes old. I feel like generational gaps are getting shorter… The moment you think about ‘How do we get 14-year-olds to watch this?’ or ‘How do we get 26-year-olds to watch this?’ you’ve lost.” — Freddie Wong (pictured, right), co-founder of RocketJump, on why his production company doesn’t try to target demographics.

They have all the tools and access to information and entrepreneurial spirit without all the expectations that millennials first entered the workforce with. This generation is going to be very different. — Margaret Czeisler, chief strategy officer with Wildness, the branding and marketing company from AwesomenessTV, on the powerful impact of Gen Z.

On new technology

“Reality TV was criticized as having become less real, and when viewership of reality shows began to diminish, it seemed the eyeballs went online to watch what were the ‘new reality stars,’ the online vloggers, whose genuineness and authenticity resonated with online audiences.” — Streamup president Will Keenan on why live streaming resonates with viewers.

“(Virtual reality) will require a reason to use it – that’s not quite clear to me what that reason is… Google Glass failed because it was seen as creepy, it was seen as unattractive and absurdly costly.” — Tech columnist Jesse Hirsh on the uncertainty of virtual reality’s takeoff.

On making money

“One of the biggest things online, especially on YouTube, is how fast content can be put out. But animation, you just can’t put it out that frequently. If you look at a property like Bee & Puppycat or Brave Warriors, it can take nine months to a year to produce an episode, and they’re also extremely expensive to create (between $10,000 and $30,000). In an ad-supported model, you need millions and millions of views just to make that money back.” — Matt Gielen, director of programming and audience development at Frederator Networks, on the challenges faced by animators in the digital content space.

“A lot of (YouTubers) are actually very closed-up about what they’re making than what traditional stars are when we come to them. They want to keep this appearance of being so accessible and so relate-able.” — Forbes writer Madeline Berg, on why millionaire YouTubers might not like to be perceived as such.

With files from Darah Hansen and Megan Haynes

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