Irish video aggregator VideoElephant yesterday launched ‘VideoElephant TV’, a new OTT platform focussed on short-form content. VideoElephant TV is one of a number of linear OTT services we’ve seen launched over the past few years (though it also offers content on-demand). Unlike pure VOD services, linear OTT services provide a user experience akin to traditional TV, letting users flick between channels, and immediately serving content to audiences without them having to choose what to watch.
VAN spoke with Stephen O’Shaughnessy, founder and CEO of VideoElephant, to hear about the strategy behind the new offering, and where it fits in to the increasingly crowded OTT space.
Why has VideoElephant moved into OTT?
As our core business, we’re an aggregator of mainly short-form video content. We get that from publishers like Reuters, Euronews, and Sports Illustrated, across all genres. So we’ve amassed this huge library of over two million pieces of video, and we make that available to publishers and OTT platforms who are looking for additional short-form content. Most of them create some of their own short-form video, but not as much as they’d like. So they can tap into our library, and then they can run pre-roll ads on that content.
Over the past few years we’ve seen more and more customers looking for content to fill out OTT services. You see it a lot with linear channels on OTT, where publishers don’t have enough content to fill 24 hours a day, so want to license extra content to plug those gaps. And we thought since we have all this content, there was an opportunity for us to set up our own OTT platform, and to anchor it with all this quality content we have.
So that’s VideoElephant TV. We’ve got over 60 linear channels from big brands who we’ve helped make channels, then we’ve got over a million videos available on-demand. And we’re working with publishers to help them set up channels on VideoElephant, while also giving them extra content and curating their feeds to help fill those channels.
It just seemed like something publishers really wanted. We make it easy for publishers to set up channels and license content, and it’s much more cost effective for them. Plus, it’s also a great way for us to showcase our library of content.
How does that curation process work?
We’ve already help curate feeds of content as part of our core business. We’d see it a lot with digital out-of-home, where DOOH platforms would want content to run on their screens. But they didn’t want us to just give them content, they wanted the feed to be curated so they didn’t need to employ anyone to manage it.
So we have programmers who go through videos as they come in, and they send it through to different channels depending on what the content is. And they also check for quality, to make sure it’s all appropriate, and that we’re sending through the best videos that we have coming in.
How quickly can a publisher create a channel from scratch on your platform?
We can do it within about 24 hours. We just need a feed of content from them, and then we can mix it in with our own content and handle branding for the channel and all those sorts of things. And we’ll give them a feed back that they can use elsewhere as well, either on their own properties or on other linear OTT platforms.
We’ve seen a lot more interest in linear OTT recently, whereas in its early days OTT was very VOD heavy. What do you think is driving that?
Yes, we’re seeing a lot of growth on the linear side of OTT at the moment, and that’s the space our customers want to get into at the moment. I think it’s the consumers that are driving that, linear streams are still how they like to view their content.
Do you see VideoElephant TV as an alternative to a traditional TV subscription, or as a compliment?
We’re different to the big subscription services like Netflix. When you go to those services, usually you want to sit down and spend an hour or so watching content, just like you would with traditional TV.
VideoElephant is something you’re more likely to jump on to for twenty minutes, and flick through channels to catch up on news or sport. You might have it on while you’re having your dinner, or in a break in work. So in that sense, our target market hasn’t changed. It’s the same short-form content, but just packaged up for OTT in a linear format, and that seems to be working really well.
We will be focused on TV screens, but also on mobile. Obviously short-form content works very well on mobile, and it’s easy to adapt the product to make it work on mobile.
How will advertising work on VideoElephant TV?
We’re hopefully going to concentrate on shorter ads, so probably six-second ads, because those work best with short-form content. And we’ll space ads out throughout content, rather than running pre-rolls. So roughly every ten videos, you might see an and. That would depend on demand, and what’s being watched.
We definitely don’t want two minute ad breaks in the middle of our content! But we’re not strictly limiting it to six-second ads, certainly to start with we’ll be open to whatever demand comes through.
SpotX is our ad server and manager, so demand comes through them. And then we split revenues back with our content providers. And that’s a really simple extension of our current business.
What has the response from the buy-side been like so far?
It’s been great, there’s lots of demand for CTV inventory at the moment. And we’ve got premium content from recognised media brands, so advertisers feel very safe running next to that content. So we’ve seen a very keen interest from buyers.
And we’re going to maintain that level of quality. Our next step is to start pulling in ready made channels, where a publisher already has a linear channel running on another platform and wants to pull it across onto our. But it’s not going to be a case of ‘if you’ve got a channel, chuck it our way’. We’re going to be very selective about who we work with, to maintain the quality of content, and make sure advertisers feel safe working with us.