For all the hype around the rapid growth of connected TV (CTV), the reality is that relatively few media companies outside of the TV broadcasters have invested in an app. This is slightly surprising considering that it’s rare to find a news or magazine publisher which doesn’t have some sort of video offering or a channel on YouTube, often with what would be regarded as ‘broadcast quality content’. However, this is starting to change and we’re seeing more companies starting to experiment.
Arts and culture publisher Complex Networks (a joint venture between Hearst and Verizon Communications) for example has already invested extensively in video outside of CTV. Complex posts its popular series like Sneaker Shopping, Magnum Opus, and Get Sweaty on its CTV app.
And news publishers The Washington Post and The Economist both use CTV as an extension of their long-form video strategy. The Washington Post launched ‘PostTV’ (now Washington Post Video) back in 2013, distributing video across social sites, its own web page, a mobile app and a CTV app. And ‘The Economist Films’, The Economist’s hub for long-form content, expanded onto CTV in 2016, shortly after launching on social sites and a dedicated web page.
Marta Jakubanis, product director at the Wall Street Journal, said the WSJ takes a similar approach. “We position our WSJ OTT apps – Apple TV and Roku – as an extension of our Video Center, a single destination for The Journal’s video journalism,” she said. “The apps do not require a WSJ subscription, and all of our unlocked content, from news explainers to video series, is available on the apps, including anything from our robust archive.”
Whilst CTV isn’t the central focus of the WSJ’s video strategy, Jakubanis believes there are unique benefits, partly due to the larger screen which works particularly well for longer form, in-depth investigations.
And the Journal has kept content on the app free, monetising through pre-roll video ads. Jakubanis said that that has helped the WSJ reach net-new audiences who aren’t already subscribers or who aren’t familiar with the WSJ’s offering. “In that way, the apps are a great, low-friction first step for users to explore the universe of WSJ content across formats and platforms,” she said.
But while the majority of news and magazine publishers are using CTV as an extension of their existing video strategies, some have used CTV for entirely new content.
Sports publisher Bleacher Report has used CTV to begin live streaming sports. ‘Bleacher Report Live’, launched in 2018, is a subscription streaming service with rights for the UEFA Champions League, the PGA Championship, and games from the NBA League Pass (the NBA’s direct-to-consumer offering) among others.
And US celebrity news magazine People has begun creating entirely original content for its ‘PeopleTV’ CTV app, which it monetises via ads.
Mark Trieber, general manager of People TV, said that CTV gives the publisher more control over the user experience than other forms of video distribution.
“The video ecosystems and platforms will always be weighed by consumers across the characteristics of convenience, discovery, and loyalty and there are many valuable roles to play within those areas,” he said. “We provide passionate fans an option to come directly to PeopleTV, as this direct connection allows us to display and promote our content according to the brand’s goals and values.”
But he added that this content is becoming less siloed between different platforms. “The days of content only being on one platform are dwindling,” he said. “Content that is made for digital migrates to OTT and vice versa. We have to be able to find the audience where and when they watch and hope to engage them so that they come back and seek us out on different platforms.”