NBCU launched the SVOD service HayU earlier this year to deliver reality TV to fans in the UK and Australia. The company still allows operators to include it in traditional channel bundles. So why didn’t it just create a new cable TV channel?
Chapter 1: About HayU (0:30)
In this interview with Hendrik McDermott, HayU’s SVP of branded on-demand, at IBC 2016 he explains that the new subscription video on demand product focuses entirely on reality TV. It was launched in March in the UK and Ireland, and April in Australia. It goes beyond long-form shows. The service incorporates short-form material, including snippets and interviews, as well as social media integration and news about the stars. The app was designed by HayU, and built by Accedo.
Chapter 2: A human curated experience (2:00)
Many SVOD services rely on algorithms to curate and recommend programs to subscribers. HayU uses real reality TV fans, including editorial journalists and asset managers, to curate and recommend the content to subscribers. The service ads between 12-15 news shows a week.
Chapter 3: Partnering with pay TV operators (3:10)
Although someone can subscribe directly to HayU for £3.99 per month, the service still partners closely with operators. In the UK, HayU developed a specific app to run on Virgin Media’s TiVo set-top box. The service is bundled in with the TV XL (now called full House TV) Channel package. Consumers spend an hour or more per session using HayU through the TiVo box.
On mobile devices, the HayU app now allows subscribers to download episodes. According to Mr. McDermott, this is one of the most requested features.
Chapter 4: Why HayU is an app and not a TV channel (5:10)
Mr. McDermott says the company wanted to deliver to the consumer at her convenience. The app was a better way to achieve this than creating a new TV channel. The app approach also allows the service to make the latest episode from the US available within an hour of broadcast. This has created a new primetime for the service. Viewers watch at 9AM to catch the latest episodes as soon as they are available.
Why it matters
Though NBCU’s HayU is a standalone SVOD service, it is also being included with some tiers of pay TV service.
Rather than launching a regular channel, TV content providers could launch an SVOD service and continue to partner with operators on distribution.
This could be the best of both worlds for content providers, but is it also a good deal for pay TV operators?