By: Yohan P Chawla
Curt Marvis is a highly respected international veteran in media and entertainment with close to 24 years of experience in content distribution, television, content production and OTT. He co-founded QYOU close to five years ago. Prior to that he co-founded and led for seven years Next Level Entertainment which focused on creating new opportunities for content monetization on digital platforms. Marvis was also President of Digital Media at Lionsgate UK for about four years.In 1999 he co-founded the OTT service CinemaNow and led it for just under nine years.
Ahead of the Asia TV Forum & Market (4-7 December 2018), where he will be delivering a keynote presentation at the ATF Leaders’ Summit, we caught up with Curt Marvis and he spoke about QYOU’s plans for India, the distribution business model and the co-existence of traditional mediums of television and digital as a whole
Edited excerpts of this candid conversation.
1. What’s the basic business model of QYOU? And its major sources of revenue?
We curate, license and package the best content From top digital creators for distribution via traditional cable and DTH, OTT & mobile both in linear and on-demand formats. Our revenues come From a combination of license fees, per-sub fees, ad sales and sponsorships. In the beginning we relied primarily on flat license fees and per-sub fees. As we continue to expand our reach we are moving increasingly into an ad-supported model.
2. So how does the business survive with only distributing previously consumed digital content across your broadcast network and OTT platforms?
It’s funny, as I am asked this question frequently. It seems everyone forgets that back in the days of the home video industry, everyone had the same movies, and even when Netflix and Amazon Prime started, for years there was no such thing as original content. It was simply a different delivery or business model to get to the content, but they all had the same movies and TV shows that were available in multiple ways.
In addition, I often explain to people that the most valuable movies and TV series in television syndication are the ones everyone has already seen –sometimes maybe two, three or more times!
Our model is similar. We know that the content we curate, package and distribute is popular as it has been viewed previously millions of times, and that is the exact appeal to it! We just put all the best digital-first content in one place and one easy-to-navigate location.
YouTube has billions of pieces of digital content. We only care about a micro subset that is the very best of it. That is our model. We find the best and coolest for you and make it easy for you to watch it.
So far, this model is working well. Eventually of course we plan on using the data we receive to begin creation of our own unique original digital content. Just as those before us moved similarly into it. But having the best content that you know is already popular as a distributor is a good thing!
3.What is your understanding of the Indian audience?Are there any key trends spotted by QYOU India?
Our target audience is what we like to call “Young India”. For us that means Indians From 20-30 years of age who suddenly have a bit less time in their lives and want to spend less time searching, and more time watching.
More importantly, we find that there are virtually no television brands that are very specifically targeting this audience in India.They grew up in a growing and thriving digital-first world but all the traditional channels are ignoring them.
We think we are set to find a special place in the hearts of this dynamic audience that loves amazing and relevant digital-first multiscreen entertainment.
4. As an industry veteran, how do you see this unique format of distributing quality web content to various platforms through QYOU India? And how do you approach it?
Those of us who started QYOU come originally From the traditional TV and media business, but most of us have been dealing with digital in one way or another for long.
We view ourselves and our company as a bridge between the powerful programming and ad-safe world of traditional media, and the more dynamic and quickly shifting world of digital. It is simply how we approach everything; what is old is new, and vice versa –how can we take the lessons and learnings From our past and apply them to the new world of content consumption and tastes.
By the way, it is not the older veterans among us who choose the content; we leave that to the younger ones in the company. It’s such an exciting time in the world of media and certainly India is among the most dynamic, if not themost, in the world, so we are thrilled to be gaining a foothold here.
5. Can you share a current progress report of QYOU India in terms of numbers in the Indian and APAC Markets? TV Viewership ratings, OTT app downloads across IOS and Android, social media engagement with the number of followers…
We are still a bit too young to be sharing numbers;those will start to reveal themselves in 2019. I can tell you that privately held studies have been very encouraging. Currently we are on TATA Sky across their TV and mobile offerings, and on JIO as well. By the time you run this story, that will likely have grown; maybe even considerably. And we expect to be distributed on most if not all major TV and mobile platforms in India in 2019.
6. Since QYOU India is specifically targeted to generation Z, what does the content catalogue consist of? A lot of emphasis has been given to your association with local content creators such as FilterCopy and Being Indian. On what basis does QYOU select content pieces for further distribution across its network on TV, OTT and connected devices?
There is where some of our programming experience comes into play and also where we use data From various online tools to understand what we think will add to our content mix most effectively. Obviously we can see what content has been most popular online, and to a certain extent this can be used as an early guidepost. Then we begin to look into day parts for the linear feed along with genres or content categories that we think will be appealing to both – consumers, advertisers and brands.At the moment I would say it is one part science, one part experience and one part gut instinct!
7. QYOU’s partnership in India with Tata Sky and JIO… how do both parties benefit?
I think every content distribution company around the world is seeking ways to engage and in many cases hold onto the millennial and gen-z consumer. We target that user group with content we know they love.I think our distribution partners recognize that and know that offering Young India the content found on The Q India in one channel is a powerful way to engage them.
8. How is QYOU India looking at creating a buzz about itself? Which are your key target markets and your marketing strategies for them? Can we expect to see any QYOU campaigns in the near future?
We have just announced the appointment of Krishna Menon as our Chief Revenue Officer and we are already working on some other plans for greater promotion of the brand in 2019.
One of the most important advantages that we have as a content platform is that nearly all our content producers are also engaged in influencer marketing. That is how they make their living — using their content to become branded entertainment or a cultural voice for a brand and their image.
We see this as the magic of our channel. All of these creators live and breathe influencer marketing authentically and organically. We already have content partners excited about the potential of greater promotion of their content on our service via their own socially engaged audience.
This is a unique feature of QYOU, and something we plan on leveraging going forward. Our content and our content creators are already part of the social media conversations that brands are seeking to be part of.
9. What is your take on Asia TV Forum & Market? Do you think this festival needs to be taken to emerging markets in APAC? How does a platform like QYOU benefit From ATF?
It’s important — particularly for a new brand and company like ours — to get in front of a large group of potential partners all in one place. ATF certainly offers us that opportunity.
In addition, I think everyone in this business realizes that we are in a time of dynamic change, and we think dialog and discussion among our peers is invaluable as we all tackle the shifting landscape ahead of us.
APAC is exploding right now for media. Mobile video is changing everything so fast, but television is still relevant and will continue to be for a long time. Festivals like this are vital in creating gatherings to help sort this all out.
10. What are the plans going forward for the Indian and APAC Markets?
To keep growing as quickly as possible and to be fearless!