Over The Top Part I: TV, YouTube and the New In-Between

Kevin Be Original Pic.jpg

Be Original. 

This phrase is no longer just an Adidas tagline, it’s a new mantra for media companies and content platforms.  Today, companies like YouTube are making watchable content more accessible than ever. A multi-million dollar show can start out as a YouTube series filmed on a GoPro.  Creators are starting to dictate where the industry is headed. 

It hasn’t always been that way.  Traditional TV networks used to be the ones calling all the shots.  If a network wanted a certain show, they sought out a production company to produce it. Production companies were the content creators, in the business of structuring deals to license out their shows to major networks. This system still exists today in cable television, but the landscape has changed completely.

The advent of YouTube brought content democratization front and center.  Unlike TV networks who were very particular in searching for the newest and hottest show, millions and millions of content creators were now defining what was “new” and “hot”.  The cream rose to the top and a spectrum started to emerge.

In the middle of this spectrum landed OTT, or “Over The Top” content.  OTT is the catchall term used to define delivery of film and TV content via the internet.  As soon as it hit, the flood gates opened.  Everyone wanted to test their programming outside the traditional ecosystem. Media companies began investing in their own platforms to release premium content on their websites:  Hulu, Crackle, Amazon. Tech companies jumped in too: Facebook Watch, Verizon go90.  TV Networks caught on, and the barriers of entry collapsed.

Enter the current landscape: whether it be traditional TV networks, YouTube, or OTT, everyone is searching for the next big win in original programming.  Audiences, budgets, consumption methods… nothing is the same as it used to be.  Facebook can now look to its own community to find a vehicle for original programming on Facebook Watch. 

Challenges still exist, especially with so much new competition. Not everyone can compete.  A scrappy startup looking to build the next “it” content platform might not have the budget or audience reach to do so.

But when thinking about the future, consider this:

Crunchyroll, a San Francisco-based anime streaming platform, started in 2006 as a small website created by a few Naruto loving engineering grads from California. Today, Crunchyroll has contributed more than $100 million to the Japanese anime industry through royalty payments. 

The company just extended into creating their own content…

Original content.

Kevin Grosch