‘A meaningful business with real money’: How Vox approaches producing for TV and streaming
Many digital publishers are trying to go Hollywood, but it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. For instance, it took Vox Media three years between creating its Vox Entertainment division and landing a deal with Netflix.
Produced by Vox Entertainment, “Explained” premieres on Netflix on May 23. The documentary-style series covers topics from Korean pop music to designer babies. In July, Vox Entertainment will release the food and travel show “No Passport Required” on PBS; the studio is also producing a four-part miniseries for CNN called “American Style.” The division also hopes to secure deals for around a dozen other shows over the next year.
“It’s a paradigm shift from the publishing model, where you can just throw up ideas, and test and see where it goes,” said Chad Mumm, vp of Vox Entertainment, during the Digiday Video Summit. “It took three years, but it’s becoming a meaningful business for us with real money.”
Instead of partnering with veteran TV production studios out in Hollywood, Vox Entertainment is making its shows internally. This has meant forgoing quick co-production deals with studios, which can quickly land development deals that go nowhere, Mumm said. And by self-producing its TV and streaming shows, Vox has greater control over the quality and direction of the content, he said.
But as a new entrant to entertainment, Vox had to convince buyers to let it produce its own programming. Eventually, Vox landed a pilot commitment from an unnamed TV network, which allowed Vox Entertainment to be the lead production studio. Even though the pilot did not get picked up to series, it set a precedent.
“Our first biggest fight was, can we sell a show where the network would let us be producers?” said Mumm. “He who controls the money controls the creative. And if you’re not the network funding the show, the next best thing is to be the lead producer.”
As a newcomer to TV and streaming production, Mumm said he was also less precious about retaining ownership over the finished tape (the final cut of the episodes that are delivered to Netflix and other network partners). Intellectual property ownership is important for Vox Entertainment, but will become more so as the studio builds out a larger library of programming and captures more interest from content buyers. Right now, especially in the case of the Netflix deal, Vox is happy to put a show that puts its brand front and center on a global streaming platform.
“Yes, they owned the finished tape, but they paid for it,” Mumm said of Netflix. “We may not own the rights to resell it internationally yet, but we have not taken on a lot of risk relative to what the [network buyers] have to. There’s no secret sauce to getting more rights — either have a compelling package where lots of people bid on it, or put up some risk and co-fund it.”
Future of TV Briefing: Traditional TV’s Q2 upfront cancelation rates signal market may have bottomed out
This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at the recent signs of recovery that TV network executives are seeing in the marketplace.
Future of TV Briefing: YouTube makes its case for the TV ad industry’s measurement makeover
This week's Future of TV Briefing looks at the measurement principles YouTube released on Tuesday and how the Google-owned video platform fits into the broader measurement overhaul.
How NBC News’ Devan Joseph and Stephanie Scrafano cover the news on TikTok
The primary poles of that TikTok strategy are the newsier videos produced by Scrafano’s nine-person team and then the feature-esque explainers created by Joseph’s six-person team.
SponsoredBrands are optimizing video production to drive user acquisition
Sponsored by QuickFrame by MNTN With brands increasingly investing in video ads on social media, marketers are enhancing their video production capabilities to unlock growth on Facebook and Instagram. Especially urgent in an uncertain economic climate, brands must minimize production costs while creating a high enough volume of social media videos to identify the creative […]
Future of TV Briefing: How TV and streaming businesses fared in the fourth quarter of 2022
This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at the latest round of quarterly earnings reports from companies including Disney, Netflix, Roku and Warner Bros. Discovery to sift through what they signal about the state of the business.
Revolt’s Detavio Samuels says advertisers have fallen short on commitments to Black-owned media companies
Revolt’s digital revenue has grown to surpass its linear TV revenue despite the latter revenue stream continuing to grow.