As the on-demand space continues fill up with more new kid-focused SVOD platforms competing for content and looking for closer relationships with consumers, it’s becoming increasingly important for new players to offer innovative points of differentiation.
Enter London-based startup ScreenHits-a B2B online platform for the buying and selling of TV content globally that is set to provide direct-to-consumer elements starting this July.
The site features a curated lineup of 200 TV titles and movies that refreshes every quarter, and a unique Pilots Showcase of 50 broken or failed pilots (with ads) available for on-demand viewing, consumer feedback, pre-ordering and potential full series funding from ScreenHits’ advertising and broadcasting partners.
The first round of pilots won’t be announced until June. But once they do, a fresh batch of pilots, always with the talent still attached, will hit the platform every six months.
Viewer options on ScreenHits.tv include free content available for streaming with ads, and a 99-cent per month, ad-free star package featuring rental discounts and prizes.
Launched in 2012, ScreenHits began as a cost-effective B2B online sharing platform that allows TV broadcasters to acquire high-end original programming (everything from The Walking Dead to Mad Men) from a select group of distributors. To help the shows sell, logged-in viewers provide feedback and ScreenHits then shares the data with its distribution partners.
“We’re very transparent with our data unlike other platforms like Netflix. We share all the data with our customers because we want them to make money and we want to make money, too,” says ScreenHits CEO Rose Adkins.
ScreenHits is also applying its unique data-sharing strategy to its new Pilots Showcase.
“There are so many platforms like YouTube and Vimeo where anyone can rate a show, but it doesn’t mean that the person is going to purchase,” says Adkins.
“Our viewers can actually pre-order the pilots. We don’t ask for ages, but we know where they live, for example, and their sex and preferred genre picks. If a pilot they watch gets made into a series, that’s when they will automatically be charged. It’s powerful data because once it’s shared with broadcasters on our B2B site, they can see how many viewers are willing to pay to watch a show if it gets made into a full series.”
She adds that once pilots are pre-sold to different broadcasters and territories, it helps ScreenHits’ ad partners who can then decide to fund the shows accordingly.
While the site features a wide range of content, kids titles do factor prominently into the strategy. ScreenHits has already inked partnerships with Hasbro, Turner Broadcasting, eOne and Lionsgate to provide yet-to-be-announced content for its consumer launch.
“Our content covers everything from drama, to comedy, to reality and there is a section for kids. Five to seven pilots of the first 50 will probably be kid-focused animation,” says Adkins.
“We work with a lot of kids programming on our B2B site. It’s a huge part of our business and is something we will continue to focus on.”
She’s also quick to distance ScreenHits from platforms that aggregate a large amount of kids content.
“We don’t want to be a Netflix. We want to be a site about quality, not quantity. We want to be more of a curated and programmed OTT platform versus an aggregator of back catalogue content,” Adkins says, noting the company’s excitement around giving kids pilots new life when a lot of quality kids content either gets lost on huge aggregator sites or doesn’t ever get completed.
“It’s expensive to produce animation and people are not completing full series, so it’s great to put something out there, test it with consumers, and ensure that quality content doesn’t get lost.”
While it’s hard to predict what will happen after July 1, Adkins is looking forward to the results.
“I think over the first six months, the buying and selling activity will be incredible, especially for the children’s content, now that buyers have an extra aspect of data. We haven’t set a target for how many of the first pilots will become series, but based on my industry instinct, I think about 10% will get picked up, which wouldn’t be bad.”
As it prepares for its official launch, ScreenHits is also busy planning for the future and is aiming to eventually fund pilots itself to provide exclusive original content on the platform, thus providing new competition for the Amazons and Netflixes of the world.