(Note: Following is the first of several interviews I'm doing with speakers appearing at X Media Research's upcoming BroadbandTVCon in Hollywood on Nov. 5th and 6th, where I'll also be moderating. VideoNuze readers can save $75 on registration using the code "VideoNuze.")
Following is an edited transcript of my interview with Lisa Judson, GM of YEAH!, a new streaming movie service launched by AMC Networks this past March.
What is the philosophy behind YEAH!?
We believe that movies have become a commodity online and that we could provide a unique experience, to enrich a film with original content about the film. We try to tell the story of the movie while you watch the movie. We see ourselves as movie lovers, so we're aligned with our audience. We don't want to just deliver a movie, but rather an overall experience that will connect and engage audiences (see screenshot below).
Describe the YEAH! user experience.
With YEAH!, the interactive experience displays below the window where the movie is playing so it isn't obscured. The experience features interviews, text, polls, external references and quizzes. Viewers can start and stop the experience whenever they want. It's different than a "director's track" sometimes found on a DVD. In those you have to listen WHILE you watch movie, so the descriptions are constrained by time. YEAH!'s model enables directors to tell fuller stories about their films. For example, the director Wes Craven, who's worked closely with us, thinks YEAH! is an amazing experience as a filmmaker.
How did AMC Networks assess the opportunity for YEAH!?
AMC Networks is committed to the digital video space. Again, we saw that movies were available everywhere, so we didn't want to do the same, or compete with services like Netflix, Amazon and others. We wanted to create extra value where the interactivity of the Internet is used to enhance the movie experience. Our goal is to super-serve movie fans in a way that isn't possible anywhere else. Our differentiator is that we come at this as programmers, and our purpose is simply to give movie lovers the ultimate experience.
Who is the target market for YEAH!?
We target movie lovers. Our research showed that if you love a film, you'll love the YEAH! experience. We've received lots of great comments since we launched. For example, mothers have told us that YEAH! is the best family viewing experience.
Will YEAH! be available on multiple devices?
The desktop is our first platform, to help us get established. We'll launch an iPad app later this month, then on Roku in Q1 '14 and on iPhone/Android devices in Q2 '14. We also plan to have EST (electronic sell-through), so viewers can purchase, as well as rent, by Q4. We want to quickly be wherever consumers want to watch YEAH!
Movie rentals on YEAH! are $4.99 - can you explain your pricing decision?
We did a lot of research on pricing. First, remember that studios set the base price. We're adding a lot of value to the base movie viewing experience, so $1-2 extra felt appropriate to us. We're also very fairly priced compared to VOD options on cable since the experience is so much richer.
How is YEAH! trying to capitalize on broader video industry trends?
When you think about the idea of "fandom" - you ask how does a modern movie fan watch today? We believe that binge-viewing, for example, is helping change viewer expectations. Super-fans are created quicker than ever, accelerating people's relationship with content. But as fewer movies are being offered on TV, we believe the casual way that people would previously fall into watching a movie has gone away. That means movie watching is becoming a more deliberate, on-demand behavior. YEAH! appeals to movie lovers who want a deeper, more engaging experience.
Lisa will speak on Nov. 5th at BroadbandTVCon at 10am on the session, "Video Everywhere: New Digital Networks, New Platforms and the New BroadbandTV Paradigm."