The days of flying solo in the delivery of online video services are very definitely behind us. As Adeline Cassin, Head of Marketing for CuriosityStream makes clear, to reach the audience partnerships are the key to success.
At the TV of Tomorrow Show in New York, I had the privilege of interviewing CuriosityStream’s Chief Marketing Officer Adeline Cassin. I was keen to discuss how the global factual entertainment media service recently slashed the subscription charge to embrace a “pricing for the planet” model. The company was able to do this by embracing a hybrid subscription and sponsorship model. However, during the discussion, one subject kept coming up: partnerships.
As Ms. Cassin and I talked, it became clear partnering is a critical strategy for CuriosityStream. Here are some of the ways she highlighted that the service works with other companies.
Be everywhere your viewer is
Ms. Cassin explained that CuriosityStream’s national and international distribution approach has advanced far beyond a simple over-the-top approach:
“We’re not just over-the-top, we’re also through the middle now. And we are available on just about every major platform and device in the U.S.”
CuriosityStream has perhaps the broadest distribution of any SVOD provider, short of Netflix. It is available on all the major brands of smart TVs, the top streaming media players, and through connected TV platforms like Android TV. The service is even available to Comcast Xfinity TV customers on the cable company’s set-top box.
Ms. Cassin explained why platform providers are so happy to partner with CuriosityStream:
“We fill a gap in the market that a lot of traditional players were looking for and they’ve really embraced partnering with us.”
Toyota partnership brings value to everyone
Normally, sponsor relationships entail advertising and product placement in and around the content. Ms. Cassin explains that the Toyota partnership is very different:
“Toyota has a theater inside of CuriosityStream. So, in addition to the long-form content Dream the Future that they are sponsoring, they are also featuring some content that is specific to Toyota. It’s not an infomercial; it’s not an ad. There is content from Toyota featuring Michio Kaku, probably the most renown physicist in the world right now.”
The Toyota partnership allows people to watch the premium series Dream the Future, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, without ad interruptions. Further, CuriosityStream and Toyota work together on shows that give the viewer insight into how the car company addresses some of the technical challenges it faces through the eyes of employees.
Partners can emerge in unusual places
Sometimes, the partnerships CuriosityStream embraces might not seem like a good fit on first look. For example, the service is available through Ellation’s VRV. VRV is an SVOD aggregation platform targeting the fandom community and is anchored by the very successful anime service Crunchyroll. Users can subscribe to directly to CuriosityStream from within the VRV experience. Though the fandom audience might not seem a good fit, Ms. Cassin explains the partnership ended up being good for both companies:
“They reached out to us, and we were scratching our heads. “We’re not anime, why would they want to work with us.” Their philosophy, which I think is brilliant, is they have a small number of exclusive content players that they have asked to partner with. And each one represents a genre which people are super-fans about. That’s really what our audience is – super-fans.”
Arlen Marmel, VP of Marketing and Distribution at Ellation, explained what he looks for in partners:
“The key <partner> attributes for us are premium, super-high affinity, and partner commitment to SVOD. And then you layer on what we call the fandom ring, the set of genres that fit within fandom. Where those two roads meet, we have amazing partnerships.”
Mr. Marmel’s description of a great partner illustrates why VRV reached out CuriosityStream and why the partnership is working so well for both companies.
Why it matters
Partnering is emerging as a key strategic tool for SVOD providers.
There are partnering opportunities with device manufacturers, platform providers, and with sponsors that can benefit everyone in the value chain of delivery.