Broadcaster Magazine, September 2012
Canadian Company Builds Broadcast Reach, Revenue with Dedicated Online Channels
It was first described as a $150 million experiment. Now, Internet giant Google has invested another $200 million to market and monetize new TV and video channels; it’s moving away from simple user-generated videos and towards more professional content that will better lure viewers and advertisers.
From Ontario’s educational broadcaster TVO, to top film companies like Warner Bros. and Hammer Productions, to leading retailers like Harley-Davidson and top sports properties like the National Basketball Association.
Hundreds of online broadcasters, content owners and rights holders realize the growing importance and impact of online video and social networking, and they see a hybridization of broadcast and broadband as an important industry trend and business opportunity.
The NBA in particular has a B.C.-based company to thank. Working with BroadbandTV Corp. (BBTV), the NBA Channel on YouTube has garnered well over 292 million video views since its launch. It’s one of the most popular channels for sports, and one of the most popular YouTube channels overall.
BroadbandTV works with the NBA throughout the year to expand its online reach and content offerings, while assisting the League with placement of new video highlights.
Since launching its first online video asset four years ago, BroadbandTV has grown to manage hundreds of thousands of videos online for more than 3,000 companies, including YouTube, TELUS Communications, DivX Inc, NBA, Warner Bros, Endemol and many heading international companies, helping unlock the monetization value behind their online video content along the way.
Shahrzad Rafati is the founder of BroadbandTV Corp; in just its fifth year of operation, it has become one of the fastest growing companies in Canada, and it was just named the most innovative company in British Columbia, and recognized for “radically changing” the online media and technology industry while “boosting bottom lines.”
“It’s our mission to foster entrepreneurship amongst video creators by developing the tools and technologies they need to be successful online,” noted Rafati, also CEO of BroadbandTV, in an e-mail correspondence with Broadcaster Magazine. “We continue to grow our business based on this ideology.”
BroadbandTV handles proprietary content in different ways, Rafati described. It can acquire licenses for the content by partnering with the owners; it then packages, optimizes and distributes the content through BroadbandTV’s own consumer portal, VISO.
BroadbandTV’s client companies generate ad revenue from their own content, but because BroadbandTV can direct fans back to a client’s own or other approved site to find more content, they can benefit from the additional traffic and exposure.
As Rafati explained it, because BroadbandTV’s system sits on top of the tools Google created to protect itself,” Google is also earning revenue via BroadbandTV, on content it could never monetize on its own.”
She shared added detail about her company and its online content distribution strategy.
How do you describe the difference between BBTV and VISO?
VISO is BroadbandTV’s consumer-facing brand. VISO is a multi-channel distribution network that works with the video creator community. It leverages optimization and curation techniques to help the creators better distribute and monetize their audio and video assets across many verticals including gaming, music, entertainment, sports, health and wellness, and philanthropy.
Certainly there’s a strong tech element to the company and its services; what is the reaction when a woman makes such a presentation? How have your ideas and visions been accepted over the years, and is that changing in any way more recently?
It’s true women are a minority in the tech industry, but I’ve never felt that being a female CEO has put me at a disadvantage. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think there is a lot of support and respect for women in tech and that is continuing to grow. I’m a big advocate for empowering woman and entrepreneurs in this industry and any other.
How about in a ‘sports’ context too? How do major sports execs react to a woman’s pitch for online sports related services and offerings?
In any industry you need to do your homework and understand the fundamentals before you can sell. If you know the industry well and the value proposition is there, well then the chances that your pitch will be well received are greater, regardless of your gender. With that said, I think in many male dominated industries like sports, it’s refreshing for executives to be pitched by a woman who understands that game and can add value.
Content had often been described a ‘king’ in the digital media world, and the various platforms are seen as a democratizer for large and small content creators. Do you see it that way?
Absolutely; I believe content is king and it is refreshing to see platforms like YouTube that are leveling the playing field. Content creators of all sizes are not empowered with the distribution tools to find relevant audiences. You no longer have to be a “Disney” for your content to be accessible and engaging to viewers. Without content we would not be in business.
Do you have any concerns about the contra-notion that ‘content is the pawn,’ and that online marketing and social media campaigns today can get the ‘eyeball demographics’ and ‘client contacts’ they need through data mining, e-mailings, social posting and twitter feeds?
At the end of the day, distributors and content creators need to work together to generate optimal results and create great viewing experiences for users. One cannot exist without the other. Without content you don’t have distribution of marketing and if the users are not engaged it all becomes irrelevant anyway.
The growth of broadband and the emergence of multi-channel networks give the consumer much more control. The consumer now has the choice of what they watch, when they watch, and how they watch. That’s why networks like VISO, which narrowcast content, are so important. They allows consumers to more easily find content that’s relevant to them.