To close out 2015, VideoInk is calling on some of the top execs in the online video business to give us their take on the industry’s most significant developments in the past year, and where it might be going in 2016.
Today, it’s Chad Gutstein, CEO of Machinima.
Machinima calls itself “the first global many2many programming service focused on fandom and gamer culture.” In September, the Warner Bros.-backed multi-platform production company and multi-channel network launched Machinima Studios, with ambitious plans to ramp up its production of original content from 250 hours a year to more than 600. It will be distributed across a variety of platforms, old and new, from the new mobile-first video hubs Verizon’s Go90 and Comcast’s Watchable to graphic novels with integrated video content, via a partnership with 451 Media Group, the entertainment studio run by director Michael Bay (“Transformers”).
What was the most important trend in the online video industry in 2015?
The evolution of multi-platform distribution opportunities for digital video producers and the rise of social video platform competitors to YouTube.
What single deal, launch or failure in 2015 was the biggest game-changer for the industry?
Facebook launching native video uploads.
What surprised you the most in terms of hits or misses?
Hits: How quickly new premium platform entrants like Vessel and Go90 were to hit the market.
Misses: YouTube monetization eroded much faster than expected.
What’s the most common mistake you saw this year in the biz, whether it was made by studios or individuals?
Our industry is changing so quickly, the only “mistake” would be not focusing your organization on the opportunities that matter. With an influx of new platforms, significant changes with revenue distribution on existing platforms, a significant increase in the amount and quality of programming being created, and an exponentially increasing number of eyeballs watching the content, we are still in the early innings of this game and need to keep absorbing the lessons that our audiences are teaching us.
Is there a sector of the streaming industry that you feel is chronically undervalued or ignored?
Content-based marketing solutions are still not understood as well as they can be by marketers and agencies. Buyers tend to treat native video like media, which is to say like a commodity where only the lowest price matters. Content-based solutions are a combination of native ad creative and audience delivery, and all executions are therefore unique. The producer matters. The talent matters. The context and platform matters. When it is done well, the results are much stronger than yet another media impression from a 15-second or 30-second spot.
Virtual reality/360-degree video — fad or future? Why?
VR/AR is the future and 360-degree video is a rest stop on the way. By Holiday 2017, VR capable smartphones will have critical mass, offering scale platforms for content producers. Consumers will be willing to pay for these experiences, either a la carte or through subscriptions to existing SVOD services (pornography is already, once again, leading the way here). VR/AR also has applications that go well beyond entertainment (medical, industrial, scientific, communication), which will help drive it’s adoption. But, at the core, once you experience VR, you know exactly why it will be so big.
Mobile-first distribution — overhyped or undervalued? Why?
Undervalued. The data speaks for itself; the vast majority of video content is now being viewed on a mobile device. This is overwhelmingly and especially true for younger audiences.
What do you think will be the big story for the streaming space in 2016?