By giving advertisers and agencies the ability to reach customers on traditional broadcast platforms via a premium on-demand content environment, UK-based Ketchup TV has carved out a space for itself within the electronic programming guide.
London-based VOD365 launched its free preschool AVOD channel in 2016 after becoming the first UK company to collaborate with Google Ad Platform to create a digital advertising platform that can be integrated with hybrid broadcast platforms. When users click on Ketchup TV in the guide (where it looks indistinguishable from other linear channels), they’re taken to the VOD platform.
Ketchup TV sought to license content from leading global television and film studios for free, for unlimited streaming across smart TVs, IP-connected set-top boxes, game consoles, and iOS and Android mobile devices. To date, it has secured partnerships with DreamWorks, eOne, DHX Media, Studio 100 and Mattel—to name a few—for hit shows including Bob the Builder, Little Baby Bum, Postman Pat, Peppa Pig, Thomas and Friends and Maya the Bee. Now, according to VOD365 founder and CEO Paul Coster, the channel’s reputation as a viable content option is growing.
Alongside its expanding licensing business, Ketchup TV’s UK distribution is also widening. After partnering with Samsung Smart TV, the platform became available to viewers via a dedicated channel on Freeview/YouView-connected TVs and set-top boxes in 2016 and 2018, respectively, giving it access to a combined 22 million households across the country.
For Coster, it’s been a challenge to get content providers to buy into AVOD opportunities in the over-the-top space, but the tide is turning.
“It’s been difficult to get people to commit to deals with us when everyone’s holding out for subscription platform deals,” says Coster. “But the opinion now is that AVOD is a serious opportunity, and it’s emerging in the OTT space as something that can be very lucrative.”
Aside from its slate of premium content, a big part of the appeal, Coster adds, is that Ketchup TV is a kid-safe and COPPA-certified channel.
“Agencies tell us one of the biggest [benefits] is our brand safety. It’s key for their clients, many of whom are moving away from spending money on YouTube,” says Coster.
As for Ketchup TV’s top-performing shows, Peppa Pig accounts for a large percentage of overall viewing (the platform does not disclose performance figures).
But interestingly, the channel’s second most-streamed content last October was Cry Babies Magic Tears (pictured), a 10 x three-minute promotional YouTube series for UK-based toyco IMC’s bestselling Cry Babies doll brand.
“Everybody automatically assumes a known TV brand will be streamed the most, but given the world of YouTube, kids are watching very different types of content,” he says.
To make the platform easier to sell to advertisers, Coster says Ketchup TV is targeting ads to specific pieces of content and measuring regional differences.
“Data for us is the big priority,” he says. “It’s helping us manage the frequency of ads and how we deliver them, and it’s also helping us in the decision-making process around acquisitions.”
While new deals with DreamWorks and Hasbro are in the works, Coster expects to dig deeper into the YouTube content proposition this year and eventually create original animated content for the channel. Plans are also in the pipeline to launch internationally.
“In Europe, the Scandinavian and German markets are strong in terms of ad revenue, but Italy isn’t. We would need to make sure there are premium ad rates or budgets within those markets, and obviously opportunities in terms of distribution and competition,” says Coster. “I’m also hoping our relationships flourish with some bigger studios so they recognize Ketchup TV as a unique package that they may want to use to get their content in other markets. It would be a strategic partnership approach, which I think is quite realistic.”