As the publishing industry continues to evolve, publishers are beginning to investigate and try new forms of content distribution to add to their mix. Currently, one of the most unique options is subscription video-on-demand.
What is Subscription Video-On-Demand (SVOD):
Cable and satellite are directly delivered program video, requiring the viewer to watch based on the pre-set schedule; if you want to watch 60 Minutes, you have to be on your couch at the right time on the right day. This is what is commonly known as traditional video, and while publishers can leverage it, it is not an ideal medium in most cases.
Youtube is the most common example of video on-demand (VOD), the opposite of traditional video. VOD is a service that provides internet-based video that can be watched anywhere at any time, hence the “cutting the cord” terminology that gets thrown around a lot. Most VOD content is user-generated and would not include content that is normally accessible through cable or satellite.
That is where options like Hulu and Netflix come in. These are subscription video on-demand, or SVOD services. The “anywhere, any time” concept is maintained, and content that would normally be found on cable or satellite is also included. It comes with a small subscription fee, but it is more affordable than traditional video options, and more and more video content producers are starting to include SVOD in their content distribution strategies, if not shifting to this form of distribution only.
How Can Publishers Use SVOD:
Publications are the owners of the subscription market. Sure, not every publication uses a subscription model, but the system was built for and by publications. It is about time it took authority in that realm once again. Subscription video-on-demand is a great place to start!
Video in general is a highly-consumed form of content, which means professional content producers like publishers should be leveraging it. It can provide a unique angle that complements editorial, or can cover content that might be hard to express in editorial. Using video just makes sense for publishers, especially when you consider that with SVOD, your content itself can be monetized.
Second, video does not have to be a massive, terribly expensive undertaking. The attention span for video is much shorter than that for written content, so you only need each video to be a few minutes to generate results. Also, with smart phones that wield incredibly high-tech cameras and numerous, affordable editing softwares, it is easy to shoot and produce quality video content on a budget. Considering that SVOD generates revenue, developing a strategy that balances video content costs can ensure profits from SVOD.
Third, subscription video is easy content to distribute. Publications today already have a social media presence and websites, and both those options have numerous ways to set up subscription-based video content distribution. A publisher can also sell their video content to larger subscription video services, like Amazon Prime, who already have a massive audience and subscription setup, and distribute the content on the publisher’s behalf for a fee.
The SVOD Decisions Publishers Face:
The most important thing for publishers to know is that VIDEO IS NOT FOR EVERYONE! While publishers as a whole benefit from SVOD and video in general, each case is unique; there are audiences who are not a right fit for video content, and visa versa. Publishers should investigate their audience and test before jumping on the video bandwagon.
If video is right for the audience and publication, the next hurdle is picking the content. It is not simply a question of what content the audience prefers, because some topics or content cannot be made into video format easily or in a short-form fashion. The publisher will need to develop a strategy to determine when editorial content can be expanded with video, or when topics can be made into standalone video.
SVOD also brings up the lifetime value issue. Many publications make their money with time-sensitive or time-contextual content. For video, this is a great option, but from a subscription standpoint, the content should be developed to provide value long-term. Of course, if a publisher develops enough video content consistently, this becomes mute, but for the publishers that prefer to do only a few videos a month, long-term value is how you ensure subscribers stick around, and new subscribers buy in.
The biggest challenge for publishers looking to leverage SVOD relates to distribution. SVOD may be easy to deliver, but it does take skill and setup if a publisher wants to rely on their own channels, and not a service like Amazon Prime. The system to accept payments and manage the subscriptions needs to be built or integrated into the existing subscription system. The means to host all of the video content needs to be dealt with. Most importantly, a strategy to drive traffic and sell those subscriptions needs to be made (bundle with print subscription, offer exclusive content to increase the value, etc.).
In general, video and SVOD provide value when executed well and for the right reasons. These decisions all help determine the worth to invest in SVOD, as well as how to ensure it has positive ROI if implemented.
To read more on how publishers can leverage subscription video on-demand, click here. For information on how publishers can make use of video in general, click here.
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