Rising to the OTT Challenge - Broadcasting & Cable

Rising to the OTT Challenge

Beachfront’s ‘Rise’ gives online talent a connected-TV foothold
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With an increasing number of eyeballs — particularly those of millennial viewers — gravitating to mobile screens for their video pleasure, streaming to connected-TV platforms is also extremely popular among that demographic.

A digital publishing company with a foot planted in each of those worlds is Beachfront Media, which is expanding from its mobile-video roots with a new technology and service platform to help online video creators extend their offerings to some of the most popular connected-TV platforms, including Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Opera TV, a platform that’s growing on smart TVs as well as broadband-fueled TiVo DVRs.

Beachfront’s new service, called Rise, isn’t a consumer-facing brand. Rather, it’s in place to enable OTT creators and “influencers” to more rapidly reach these new consumer-focused platforms, and to build their businesses without having to acquire any OTT video-technology expertise, Beachfront Media founder and CEO Frank Sinton said.

Many of these creators, who have long leaned on YouTube to gain a presence, are becoming media studios in their own right. Rise will provide them with the technology underpinnings, including integrated advertising systems, to help them create and manage content for a multitude of screens and, hopefully, to reach larger audiences, Sinton said.

But not all of Beachfront’s OTT focus is on the retail market. Rise also aims to give its content partners a path to set-top boxes distributed by cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors. For instance, Beachfront has a partnership with the Arris Market, a platform from the set-top maker that helps cable operators such as WideOpenWest blend traditional TV with OTT video.

Beachfront is also talking with other cable operators, including Comcast, that are looking for ways to add OTT to their video mix, Sinton said. Top U.S. MSO Comcast has shown eagerness to connect with millennials with Watchable, a curated OTT offering that’s currently available in beta form on IP-capable X1 set-tops, and as an app for Apple’s iOS smartphones and tablets.

“There’s definitely interest” from multichannel video programming distributors as they look to connect with key millennial audiences, Sinton said.

Sinton stressed that Rise does not compete directly with YouTube or Vessel, which also have programs in place to attract the best young online video talent. He views those companies as tangential content aggregators, but allows that 1 Mainstream, an OTT technology firm recently acquired by Cisco Systems, is a closer rival to Rise.

Rise operates on a revenue-share model for both advertising-and subscription-based OTT services. The company won’t detail those terms, but Sinton said they are “pretty aggressive,” with the lion’s share of the pie going to the content partner.

Beachfront said its programmatic ad system (Beachfront.io) currently supports about 20 billion mobile video ad requests per month, and that its mobile revenues have jumped 700% in the past 12 months.

Rise is just getting off the ground, but the connected-TV offering has said it has already locked in deals with several content and video brand partners, including Pranks (three channels); Collective Digital Studio (five channels); Jugando Con Natalia!; JoshPalerLin; and JoBlo Movie Network (five channels); as well as Kip Kay Vintage Beef, Nicolas Arrieta, Guilherme Gamer, Paint, Dormtainment and WatchMojo.

With an increasing number of eyeballs — particularly those of millennial viewers — gravitating to mobile screens for their video pleasure, streaming to connected-TV platforms is also extremely popular among that demographic.

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