Curating content for users is a complex task. It involves continual collaborations with content providers, analytics to assess your content traction and being ahead of the content curve. In the Over the Counter (OTC) race, first-mover advantage is everything.

If you’re looking for ways to source content for a Video on Demand (VOD) site of your own, you’ve reached the right place. With this handy little guide, you can sketch out a scientific content strategy that will help you curate your offerings by making sure they are relevant. If you are a first-time entrepreneur and are yet to finalise your technology, consider opting for a turnkey framework that will allow you to get going with your business within a few days. Opting for a ready framework is far less expensive than building your own technology, and you’ll save so much more time. Consider something like Streamhash, an impressive turnkey technology being used by numerous video tech startups today.

Once you’ve finalised your technology, on to content curation:

Create Content Partnerships & Licensing:

Regardless of whether you’re looking to charge a fixed member subscription, feature advertisements to monetise your platform, or offer differentiated packages for various segments, your content must be worth the price. Subscribers seek new content all the time, and as a broadcaster, you need to be on your toes, negotiating deals with content providers.

How Does Licensing Work?

So, how does licensing work? As far as VOD goes, licensing involves two parties; you (the broadcaster) and the content provider. The agreement that you chalk out will essentially give you permission to stream the movie, TV show or documentary of the content owner on your platform. It will be legally binding, and its terms could change with every renewal, as your relationship with the content provider evolves.

Let’s take an example to make this clearer. Say that you are seeking a TV show from an owner. The owner may give you permission to broadcast the entire show on your platform for one, two, three or even more years. And perhaps, when the agreement ends, the contract will be renewed if you and the owner find the proposition lucrative. Sometimes, content owners sign contracts for the same content with multiple VOD services. These are known as nonexclusive agreements, and are far less expensive than exclusive ones.

How Important is Exclusivity?

As the VOD market sees a plethora of players trying to get their foot in the game, content exclusivity has become a primary differentiator amongst content providers. An exclusive content agreement between a content owner and broadcaster may be fixed for a specific number of years, or in perpetuity, depending on the nature of the content. These are massive investments, and done after a huge amount of thought. That said, exclusive content can draw a larger number of subscribers to your platform in the long run.

Use Data Analytics:

If you want to become big in the game, you must invest in analytics. Of course, basic analytics come built-in with technology frameworks like Streamhash, but consider using advanced analytical tools as you scale your business. Here’s why. Content is expensive to procure, more so if it is exclusive to your platform. That’s why it is important to know what your users will like.

How Netflix Has Mastered Data Analytics:

Let’s talk about Netflix here before we go on any further. Netflix has set one of the best examples in data mining and analytics for content procurement. It has myriad trackers in place to gauge a user’s behaviour. If you’re watching Fuller House, for example, Netflix can place a finger on the number of episodes you’ve watched, where in the last episode you paused and how long you took to move on to the next episode. By drawing behavioural trends amongst users, they gauge overall engagement, and use this data to help them decide whether they should renew a show for a new season, invest in a brand-new show that is built for a similar segment or move away from the user segment entirely.

Netflix, And The House of Cards

In 2011, made an unprecedented move in the content space. It beat premium television networks like HBO and AMC to clinch two seasons, with thirteen episodes each, of The House of Cards. The deal was worth over $100 million. Steep? Of course, but Netflix knew what it was taking on.

The company had considered a few things before inking the deal. Firstly, it knew that many viewers had watched the movie, The Social Network, right through to the end. Secondly, it knew that the British version of The House of Cards had been lapped by audiences. And finally, Netflix had drawn a link between common users who had watched the British version, and who had also watched movies featuring Kevin Spacey, or those directed by David Fincher. It was almost like a digital Venn diagram that Netflix had captured, housing a certain volume of users in each circle.

Once the agreement was formalised, Netflix employed a phenomenal promotional strategy. It crafted 10 different cuts of the trailer for The House of Cards, each tailored for a different audience. Viewers whose consumption included many Kevin Spacey movies saw a trailer that included him, viewers who watched movies centred on women, were given a trailer featuring women. The show brought in 3 million new subscribers to Netflix, almost enough to cover the total cost of the show. Plus, it significantly improved the retention rate of existing users.

Outplay Television

VOD is today, what television was ten years ago. Users favour on-demand consumption. Today, you don’t have users hurrying home from work in time to catch a movie premiere. It doesn’t happen. We spoke about how Netflix outbid HBO and AMC for The House of Cards earlier. Yet, that was just one example. The company also picked up exclusive rights for Fuller House back in 2016. In world markets, VOD players are bidding to showcase movie premieres on their platforms before television networks. So, the potential of VOD extends across television and film.

In 2016, Disney signed an exclusivity deal with Netflix, allowing the latter to broadcast all its latest movies on its platform. Fresh Disney content was withheld from television and rival VOD players such as Amazon Prime and Hulu.

The advantage with VOD is that it also offers a more premium experience than television, with its custom-targeted ads and fluidity across devices. Picking a technology like Streamhash can help you tweak the appearance of your site through an admin panel and built-in customisation features.

Pick a Content Collaboration Format

Your monetisation model may not be a replica of Netflix’s model. Perhaps you plan on charging customers per offering, or provide packages with varied offerings in each. If your revenue model is skewed towards an à la carte proposition, it would make better sense to enter a revenue sharing deal with a content provider. On the other hand, if you are thinking of offering standard packages like Netflix, a fixed license fee could work well. Here are three types of content licensing deals you could consider:

  1. Fixed License Fee: Here, you, as a broadcaster, pay a fixed sum for an agreed tenure and geography. The success of the content is irrelevant to the content provider, and it is up to you to recover the investment through sales.
  2. Revenue Share: In this case, you and the content owner split a percentage of the revenue received from content sales on your platform.
  3. Minimum Guarantee with Revenue Share: This is like a revenue share model, but you, as a broadcaster, must promise to pay a minimum fee to content owners even before revenue starts rolling in. If your platform exceeds a predetermined expectation, you pay the excess money collected to the content owner. This model is extremely popular.

Create Your Own Content

Both Netflix and Amazon Prime have created their own original content to lure viewers onto their platforms. Netflix has created popular shows like Fuller House and The Ranch, and Amazon Prime has been recognized for its original series, including Mozart in the Jungle and Red Oaks. Creating original content is more cost-effective than procuring resale content from content owners. You also have the added advantage of applying data mining tools to create content suited to your audiences. As a content creator, you have tighter control over your offerings.

An effective content strategy can catapult your platform to the big league. Leverage content partnerships to get you there.