Own Your Brand! A "Silver-Labeled" Experience
The internet is noisy, cluttered with content and ads. This is what happens with recommendation engines - a constant competition for exposure and attention. How do you capture your audience? How do you keep them engaged with your brand?
Most creators' first instinct is to build a custom streaming platform to control their brand and stand out from the noise. A place a creator and their customers can call home.
This idea is great for creators with a major development budget, time on their hands, and available team members responsible for technical support. A true undertaking. But we understand. We really do.
You’ve spent years, if not decades, building your brand and catalog of valuable content. Owning your brand and your direct-to-fan experience is priority.
When we survey the current streaming industry, there have been 3 distribution buckets for creators to stream direct-to-fan. Each has their own pros and cons, and considerations to take into account. Let’s break it down.
We are all mostly familiar with the platform approach. The most prominent of them all is YouTube. This is where most of us get our start, find early success and traction, and then get to a point where we are ready to monetize our content elsewhere as advertising revenue just isn’t cutting it.
Platforms are branded apps for creators to host their content. Patreon and Twitch are also creator focused platforms.
Pros: The network effects
To start, platforms are most commonly free to use making them the right choice to experiment and prototype your content on the internet. More importantly, as platforms grow, their audiences grow, thus enabling creators to get discovered more easily as the platform is known and trusted by consumers. Platforms are the best way to grow your audience and get discovered.
Cons: Recommendation engines & no custom branding
A platform’s number one goal is to keep consumers on the platform for as long as possible. Platforms do this by creating recommendation engines to offer content to viewers that is most likely to keep them engaged with the platform. This is why on YouTube, you may watch one video from your favorite creator and then the next thing you know, you are watching something totally different from a different creator that you may or may not be interested in. It is difficult to stand out in a crowded space on platforms.
Platforms also put their branding first and offer their creators minimal opportunities to maintain a brand beyond the platform’s brand. Thus, oftentimes, consumers are not aware of you nor your brand. Your content becomes a haven for advertisers and recommendation engines to drive audience engagement for the platform and its brand.
As mentioned above, most creators have experienced success on a platform, realized the cons of being on a platform, and are now looking for ways to stand out, to own their brand, and to truly capture their audience’s attention and engagement. This is where the custom app comes in.
Custom apps can be built entirely from the ground up with a custom software engineering team like Triple Tree Software, or by using a semi-custom, private labeled product like VimeoOTT or Uscreen.
Pros: Fully Customized
Custom apps are by far the best way to truly own the entire branding experience of your streaming service. With a custom offering, you can step into the driver’s seat and design your product top to bottom, front to back.
Cons: Very Expensive (Both costs and IT/ Marketing Resources)
Rarely would we ever recommend building a custom streaming app from scratch with a software engineering firm unless you have a $250,000 + budget to do so, and plan on hiring your own internal engineering team in the near future to support the product.
There are other more cost effective custom options, but the price tag still demands attention. Using a semi-customizable product like VimeoOTT or UScreen, you will pay a 5 figure implementation fee, monthly hosting costs, and a per subscriber cost that won’t go away. With custom apps, you are spending your budget up front, before you get to start marketing to your audience, and realizing revenue.
More so, with a custom app, you lose the network effect that is so prominent and successful with platforms. With a custom app, you are entirely responsible for both your technology hosting and support costs, but also your marketing and subscriber acquisition costs. No small line item at your company’s expense.
Major Streaming Distribution
Major streaming distributors are companies like Amazon Prime Direct that offer independent studios the ability to upload their content, and make it available on a pre-existing streaming service with a pre-existing audience. We will keep this section light, as it doesn’t quite fall under “stream independent” nor “Own Your Brand,” but is still a worthy consideration for the right video creator.
The obvious positive that comes from streaming your content through a service like Amazon Prime Direct is its provided accessibility to all those you have Amazon Prime. Your content is immediately discoverable. You can also tell your audience and friends that you are on Amazon Prime, adding a bit of professionalism and clout through association to your brand!
Cons: Small revenue share, no brand, no audience insights
The most striking cons of streaming through major streaming services are the potential to lose ownership of content through exclusive licensing agreements, lost revenue through revenue share agreements or micro payments per view, and limited audience engagement with your brand.
Over the last year, we have worked with each of the above distribution options to intimately learn about their pros and cons. We knew there had to be a better way.
We’ve studied the industry, interviewing creators both small and large, working hands-on with executive producers, internet creators, podcasters, and the like.
We’ve taken the best from platforms, custom apps, and major streaming services to design a product truly optimized for the independent creator.
And what is our result? We’ve designed a platform for you to truly own your brand without spending the substantial time and money that is much better spent producing more premium content.
We’ve built a product that offers the network effects of platforms so you can get discovered and grow your paying audience, combined with the custom configuration and branding of a private-labeled app. We’ve built the accessibility of major streaming services for you to distribute your content to mobile and SmartTV’s so you can be easily accessible to your fans!
We call it “Silver-labeled,” the perfect blend between platform, custom app, and major streaming distribution.
With Special, brand your subscription video streaming service for your audience to experience directly-no recommendation engines, competing creator content, or advertisements. When a subscriber lands on your project, they are fully engaged and locked into your branded experience.
We call this “Silver-labeled”-- the perfect mix between platform and custom private labled app. As Special grows, the community of creators and subscribers grows and becomes better together.
Your branded streaming service is also distributed to mobile and smartTV’s so your fans can watch anywhere--massive brand distribution at no cost to you.
See, on Special, consumers stream independent too--by subscribing directly to the creators they actually watch--curating their bundle of direct-to-creator subscriptions.
Own your brand and capture your audience, all while leveraging Special’s out-of-the-box, best in class streaming technology.