Since launching in 2016, VRV, the video service for the fandom community, has been fine-tuning its approach to the market. The service has added additional content partners, launched a branded channel, and created a one-price-gets-all bundle. The approach seems to be working.
VRV sees high user engagement
VRV announced this morning that it has 1.5 million registered users, two-thirds of which are active each month. Those users are watching a lot of content. VRV has streamed more than 1 billion minutes and delivered 50 million video views, meaning the average video view lasted for 20 minutes.
VRV has a mix of free-ad-supported and premium content available to users. Across all users of the service, the average viewer watches for 3 hours per week. The average premium viewer watches for 5 hours per week. Premium viewership is very much in line with the giants of the SVOD world. For example, the average Netflix user watches for about 9 hours a week and the average Amazon Prime Video viewer for less than half that.
Moving to a “big bundle”
Late last year, VRV introduced a bundle which included some of the channels available through the service. According to Arlen Marmel, GM of VRV, users were a little confused by the approach. After subscribing, people had trouble figuring out which premium content they could watch and which they could not. To simplify things, VRV now allows users to buy access to all the premium content for one price, $9.99 a month. People can still subscribe to each premium service separately if they want.
That deal is about to get even better for premium subscribers. VRV will be adding CuriosityStream, an SVOD service dedicated to quality, factual television programming, and two other channels before the end of the year. Mr. Marmel says bundle subscribers will not have to pay anything more for the extra channels.
Filling in the gaps
Earlier this year, VRV launched its own channel, called VRV Select. The channel is only available to bundle subscribers. Mr. Marmel says the objective of the channel is to complement, not compete with, the other services available:
“It’s really important that we pair our partner channels with more exclusive and complimentary content that we can control and counter program. So, for example, if July is a little light on partner programming we can counter-program that to ensure users stay engaged.”
Some of the content on VRV Select comes from the failed NBC service SeeSo, which was a VRV partner. For example, HarmonQuest season 1 was a huge hit on SeeSo and transferred to VRV Select when the service closed. Now that season 2 of HarmonQuest has been released, Mr. Marmel says season 1 is being used to entice people to become bundle subscribers. Non-subscribers can watch season 1 for free with ads but will need to subscribe to watch season 2.
Expanding platform coverage and functionality
Most people discover VRV via the web, according to Mr. Marmel. However, they quickly download the app to their mobile device, which is where most viewing occurs. Connected TV viewing is also growing strongly, particularly through game consoles.
VRV plans to support the burgeoning interest in TV viewing by expanding coverage of streaming media players. Currently, VRV supports Roku and Chromecast, and early next year the service will add apps for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Early in 2018, VRV will allow subscribers to download much of the available content to their mobile devices. This feature is a popular option for other services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Why it matters
Listening and responding to users is critical if an online video service is to survive.
VRV has been listening. It has modified subscriptions terms, content bundles, and features in response.
The approach has helped the service to grow to 1.5 million users.