Discovery Channel came to subscription-based stock footage provider VideoBlocks back in the spring with a question: Would they like its spare clips?
The cable network told VideoBlocks that it shoots 40 hours of footage for every one hour that makes it into its shows. Sure, a percentage of those 40 hours is bound to be shaky cam of feet and camera tweaks, but, nonetheless, a vast wealth of useable footage remains, from establishing shots of major cities, jungles and arctic expanses to extreme close-ups of animals and insects, along with shots covering action sports, manufacturing and people and cultures from around the globe.
VideoBlocks had recently announced its new marketplace, which allows users to market their clips as stock footage ($49 for HD, $199 for 4K) and keep 100% of the proceeds. Since its soft launch in January, VideoBlocks’ marketplace has received 800,000 clips submitted by close to 8,000 videographers, and its founder and CEO Joel Holland expects the company will hit a million clips and a million dollars in payout to its creators soon. Most of its contributors are freelance shooters, but Discovery saw a corporate opportunity to harness the new service to monetize its unused content.
“We started chatting and, to be honest, I wasn’t very confident that we’d get something done with a big company like Discovery,” admitted Holland (pictured).
But, several months later, the deal is done. Today, VidoBlocks announced that it will be bringing 30,000 Discovery Channel clips to its marketplace in early 2016. They will be sourced from more than 110,000 clips on 15-plus terabytes of drive space supplied by Discovery.
“The marketplace only accepts HD and 4K HD clips, so we’ll weed out anything that does meet those parameters,” explained Greta Pittard, head of content and contributor relationships at VideoBlocks.
In addition to its a la carte marketplace, VideoBlocks offers unlimited downloads of royalty-free HD video clips, motion backgrounds, and After Effects and lower third templates from its 115,000-plus clip library for $99 per year.
VideoBlocks has several prominent competitors, including Shutterstock, which has a library of 2.6 million clips, and Pond5, which offers nearly 3.6 million clips of everything from free public domain footage to $700 photo realistic CGI animations. Their prices tend to be higher (for instance, Shutterstock charges $79 for HD clips and $199 for 4K), but, unlike VideoBlocks, they don’t require customers have a subscription to access the clips. However, it’s those subscription fees that enables VideoBlocks to give clip creators 100% of the revenue from the marketplace, which serves as a subscription driver for the company.
Along with its sister sites GraphicStock and AudioBlocks, VideoBlocks has a list of corporate subscribers that includes NBC and MTV, but the backbone of its business is the prosumers and enthusiasts crafting videos in bedrooms, dorms and the cubicle farms of small businesses.
“We are building our business on the belief that the mass creative class is the future of the content creation world,” said Holland, who launched VideoBlocks in 2008, when he was just a year out of college. “There will always be professional outlets, but, as a percentage of the market, they’re not growing. If anything, the freelancers are eating the lunch of larger groups.”
In July, the investment community gave VideoBlocks a vote of confidence in the form of an $8 million funding round, led by North Atlantic Capital, which it has been using to build out its content library, as well as its in-house marketing, administrative and customer service teams. In the last year, the number of employees in its Reston, Virginia, offices has grown from 30 to 60.
Looking ahead, VideoBlocks is exploring the possibility of adding 360-degree and 3D video to its stock footage libraries, but, Holland admits, the customer demand for it is non-existent at this point.
“I think that when you fast forward a year, [the current 360-degree video] is going to be looked back upon as a novelty; a nice first attempt, but not something you put in a real video production,” he said. “As soon as we see a good viable capture device that seems to be high-quality and mainstream enough, we’ll shoot it and start providing it. But I’m not sure how long it will take for demand. I honestly think it’s a couple of years out.”