Look How Far We’ve Come:
Today, it’s nothing to think about popping onto YouTube or Netflix and video streaming a series that was filmed, edited, and posted within the last year, and doing so from your iPhone or Android. It’s what our world calls normal.
But when you think about how long we’ve had that ability — YouTube debuted on February 14, 2005, and the iPhone launched June 29, 2007 — it’s a surreal timeline. There aren’t many other periods in history where 15 years would’ve caused such an upheaval of economies, culture, art, behaviors, and the like. There are even fewer people who saw it all coming.
Paul Hamm was one of them.
Hamm, CEO and founder of Endavo, a video distribution automation (VDA) platform, got a gut feeling that cable was going to be disrupted by video streaming from the inside of his internet and data connectivity service company. At the time, cable companies were hard to convince; embracing streaming would be a cataclysmic change in their business model. But Hamm was undeterred, switching his business model to embrace video streaming way before it became the new norm. Now, legacy cable companies are more or less relics from the past, and platforms like Endavo are beacons of the future.
So what does it take to see what’s next in video streaming? We sat down with Hamm to talk over-the-top streaming, House of Cards, and how we’re all losing more sleep to keep up with our binge sessions.
Endavo was one of the first video streaming platforms out there.
What was it like being at the forefront of the video streaming industry?
Hamm: When Endavo got started, it was challenging to stream for the average creator. YouTube was the first big thing to hit — and it changed the streaming game. Immediately other platforms and sites, including ours, wanted in.
Endavo actually started as a voice, video, and data internet connectivity service provider. We went through an extreme re-evaluation and made a conscious decision to restructure the company. We saw what was happening — the big opportunity that had just been discovered as well as connectivity as a whole — and knew we had something worth contributing.
Lots of things in the industry have changed since then.
What were the biggest moments?
Hamm: When Netflix went from a DVD business to a streaming platform. They got consumers to pull out their money and pay for video streaming; that had never happened on that scale before, and it was really the birth of OTT as we know it today.
Another pivotal moment for the industry was when Netflix released original content with House of Cards. It was the first time a streaming service was nominated for an Emmy award. It was BIG, and it wasn’t even that long ago.
On the other hand, I also think the Atlanta-based THEA Network is a pivotal moment for cities and creative communities. The chamber-owned channel is unlike anything out there right now, and it’s been hugely influential in terms of building a community, bolstering creatives, and creating a new voice for Atlanta. It’s still in its early stages, but I see THEA making a big impact on how the industry branches out to new territory.
I’m glad you mentioned THEA — it’s like a poster-child for how video streaming can help businesses adapt to audiences’ needs and wants.
Why do you think it’s so essential for companies to consider video streaming content right now?
Two reasons: Content is an invaluable marketing tool, and right now the tech exists to make it a seamless experience for businesses to create and audiences to watch. But you have to keep tabs on the pain points: video is so popular, but it’s incredibly difficult to manage the technology if you’re not a developer.
The tech moves so fast — it changes yearly — that you’ll constantly be chasing the technology if you don’t have a partner that can help you manage the tech correctly from the get-go. THEA works because the content is the focus, and they partnered with us to create a platform that meets their needs. They get the latest technology through us, but at the end of the day, they’re chasing the biggest and best ideas, and they’re letting us handle the technical details.
Technology isn’t a magic pill. You have to have great content paired with a smart plan to ensure you have the reach and engagement. Ultimately, the audience has to see value in the content.
So what’s going to be the next thing that changes the video streaming business? What once was an industry dominated by Netflix is now seeing competition from companies like Disney, HBO, Sundance, Amazon.
Where does it all go from here?
Right now, we’re looking at how the mainstream layer — the Disneys, the Amazons — is getting competitive. What’s next, and more interesting for creators, is the middle market. Streaming is going to give the awesome potential to middle-market super niches.
I see a real opportunity for creators to have more flexibility and for creative communities to being carving out even more space online. Social media has become a large frustration for many content creators because revenue rules are changing so often, so the next big thing will be with the tools and platforms that allow content creators to reliable build revenue on their own.
I heard the other day that Netflix considers sleep to be one of their biggest challenges when it comes to increasing the hours people spend on their platform.
Hamm: That’s a bold statement, but it makes sense. The truth is, video streamers aren’t just competing with the new Disney+ — they’re competing with sleep, along with social media, news, social functions, etc., because video streaming is really competing for mindshare and eyeballs. That’s why there’s still so much potential for creators, and why THEA is a strong representation of this; there’s a good argument that people still want to watch a local market, and have time to do it. If you can fuel relevant content, there’s going to be a need out there that’s met, even in the midst of so much valuable content. It’s never-ending.
Ok, interesting. So who do you think is making exceptional content right now? Who deserves the eyeballs? When I think about the celebrity personalities — the Oprah Winfrey’s of the world — in comparison with people like Tyler Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s like a whole new wave of content creators.
Who do you think the industry should be watching?
Hamm: Ozzie Areu is coming out with some fantastic ideas — he’s gearing up to really grow into this market.
But honestly, it could really be anybody right now. Anybody can catch lightning in a bottle because of how streaming allows creators and consumers to make decisions for themselves. Endavo has taken the middleman and lowered the barriers to the market; democratization opens up everything. It’s like the music industry — look how many artists can be a star because they don’t have to go through the channels and have someone tell them they’re going to be a star. They’re completely grassroots, and there’s something incredibly powerful about that.
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