How legacy publishers are transforming into profitable streaming channels

Illustration of a TV with rainbow lines on the screen.

Navdeep Saini, co-founder and CEO, DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV

Connected TV (CTV) has become one of the fastest developing channels in advertisers’ marketing mix today. The pandemic led to an increase in CTV consumption, with 75% of consumers watching more streaming content than before quarantines set in. With streaming viewership continuing to gain momentum, it has now become imperative that legacy publishing companies not only embrace the medium, but leverage it to its full advantage. 

While studies may point to the benefits of taking a break from the screen and enjoying some print reading time, for many, gone are the days of flipping through pages of long-form narratives. For a significant number of publishers, audiences represent an age in which it makes sense for the publication’s readership to become its viewership. In a number of ways, they are doing just that.

Leveraging the rising power of FAST services

Converting readers to viewers is becoming simpler, thanks to the proliferation of free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services. 

FAST services help publishers effectively break down the financial barrier that was previously associated with building new streaming TV channels. In the days of traditional TV, publishers had to invest a significant amount of money to have a studio stitch together a linear TV channel. Today, due to the rising FAST market and other new technologies, publishers can build a streaming TV channel at little to no upfront cost and immediately begin to accrue recurring revenues off of the channel’s viewership.

This is because select FAST platforms often offer services that allow publishers to utilize their platforms to create and build a streaming TV strategy, and then monetize the channel through dynamic ad insertion technology. Publishers can even opt for syndicated distribution to more easily reach tens of millions of new viewers. And it shouldn’t require significant upfront monetary or engineering resources. 

Some FAST operators can be one-stop solutions for everything from ingesting and encoding content, creating curation rules, managing monetization, electronic programming guides and ultimately, distribution across multiple devices — mobile to TV sets — as well as providing reporting and analytics. 

Understanding how to tap into — and accelerate — existing momentum

One of the biggest hurdles that publishers face in creating a new channel is creating momentum — that is, creating an audience base through which viewers feel comfortable to engage and trust in the content being presented. 

However, many publishers have already completed this step. Through their existing newsletters, print publications, apps and websites, publishers have identified a fan base. They can now use those existing touchpoints to help further grow their audience and overall streaming presence. 

In addition to the legwork of building an audience, publishers have an advantage on the content production side as well. They already have their story frameworks mapped out, based on written content plans; now, they just need to translate those written narratives over to video. This step is, for the most part, simple and can be done at relatively little cost, considering the prevalence and accessibility of 4K video recording technology. 

At the same time, with access to more viewers, there is the opportunity to boost audience engagement through the creation of more diversified content. Expanding offerings will unlock additional revenue streams. Rising viewership and improvements to real-time, dynamic ad insertion mean that publishers will likely also attract more advertising dollars as they build a more robust video inventory.

Acting now to prepare for 2022 and beyond

CTV has become a booming business, and the potential of CTV for publishers is astounding, with a recent survey finding that ​​the total hours spent with CTV devices was up 81% year over year. It helps to start by taking stock of content libraries or adjacent channels (social media platforms, YouTube) for evergreen content that could be repurposed for CTV.

This is a pivotal time to be in the streaming TV business. As publishers prepare for the future, successfully utilizing the new media landscape means having the right strategies in place from the get-go. Publishers must leverage the next few weeks and months to integrate streaming into their 2022 marketing plans and start to build out the framework to execute. The opportunity is before them, and growing. Now is the time for publishers to take advantage and reap the benefits.

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