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QYOU Media CEO: Online video, linear TV increasingly converge

? Being available on all platforms increasingly important.

? Local influencers good tool to make content relevant.

? Social media will become an integral part of the TV experience.

As multi-screen services have become the standard for most operators, and social media and influencers are increasingly used to drive content in regional markets, S&P Global Market Intelligence caught up with Curt Marvis, CEO and co-founder of QYOU Media, a global media company focussed on multi-screen short-form content curation and programming with an addressable audience of 100 million consumers.

Apart from an over-the-top offering, the company partners with Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. in the U.S. to offer millennial-focused over-the-air TV network TBD. In India, QYOU recently tied up with pay TV operator Tata Sky Ltd. to offer an India-centric 24-hour channel, which will launch this November. An edited transcript of the interview follows.

S&P Global Market Intelligence: At a time when everyone is moving to digital platforms, why is QYOU looking to offer a linear TV channel?

SNL Image
Curt Marvis, QYOU Media CEO
Source: QYOU Media

Curt Marvis: People say that millennials do not watch television anymore. No, they do watch television. They just watch it on a different screen. We also believe that [linear] television is going to be a viable business for the next several decades. So we felt that there was a need for a new broadcast network that brought the best of YouTube to the [linear] television but always was designed for a TV Everywhere viewing. It has become important to reach the TV consumers on all platforms. We are curating and licensing content for broadcasters, pay TV operators and mobile operators that are launching channel offerings and giving ways for advertisers and brands that are looking for new ways to attach to short-form videos and reach millennials. We consider ourselves as a multi-screen channel provider, a hybrid company.

What are the key challenges for digital content aggregators, like yours, as a global service?

It has become apparent that one size does not fit all when it comes to online short-form video for TV audiences. We are finding increasingly that local influencers are needed to make the content we provide more relevant and tailored to each region. We recently expanded our work with Tata Sky in India and are now starting to feature content from local creators in India, as well as some of the region’s most popular videos. We have made a number of partnerships with digital networks such as digital media company Culture Machine, South Asian hip-hop platform Desi Hip Hop [Inc.], and contemporary Indian lifestyle video content curator TheVibe. We are going to launch an India-centric channel in November.

In the past, there has been a line separating short-form content, clips you can view on your phone, and lean-back TV viewing. Is that line blurring?

There is definitely convergence happening in the online video and TV space. We are seeing social media platforms angling for a slice of TV viewership — particularly digital-natives. With so many different ways to watch television and video, there is now more competition for TV providers. We think convergence works both ways and it is possible to bring the short-form content that these younger viewers are engaging with online to the linear TV experience. In fact, with so much content available on platforms like YouTube, where there are 500 hours of videos uploaded each day, there's a real need for curation of this video content to unearth the hidden gems.

Is this the same across all markets, or is it happening in different ways in different countries?

While the line is blurring between short-form content and the lean-back TV viewing experience all over the world, there are differences from country to country. For example, broadband usage is growing in India more rapidly than in Western countries and user numbers are estimated to surge to 400 million, allowing younger audiences to get access to better quality video content online. India also has a huge mobile-first audience, so giving younger viewers the option to watch the content they love on any screen is also important. Our work with Tata Sky started out by making our linear 24/7 channel available through a mobile app, but now we are extending this to include TV too, because there is an appetite for this content through different devices.

Given the fierce competition for eyeballs and viewing time, why does QYOU think people are interested in watching aggregated user-generated content?

Younger audiences have grown up on a steady diet of short-form online videos through platforms such as [Google Inc.'s] YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. While the content is available, it is not always easy for them to find what they are interested in. People sometimes enjoy the lean-back experience of traditional TV and this can also apply to online video.

OTT is disrupting the TV viewing experience; once the dust settles, what do you think the TV space will look like, and what role will social media play?

Social media will play a big role in the TV experience and we will no longer think of these two platforms as separate. There are new video categories that will begin to surface and make their way onto TV. For example, esports has emerged from a niche category available online to become a category around which whole TV channels are being created. I expect we will see more of this in the future.