To OTT, or not to OTT? That’s not really the question.

With viewers migrating to devices in ever greater numbers, and advertisers in hot pursuit, it’s a matter of when, not if, programmers go over-the-top. The problem, of course, is monetization. David Fannon, EVP of Screen Media Ventures, oversaw the launch of Popcornflix.com, an ad-supported VOD service in 2011 and offers one strategy for OTT success.

David Fannon

Cynopsis: How did you land in the OTT arena?
David Fannon: From its inception, Popcornflix has always had the intention to launch the service on TVs , and within 9 months of our web launch, we successfully landed on Roku, where we quickly established ourselves as one of the leading apps in the AVOD space. From there, we launched on gaming consoles, smart TVs, and today we are developing on Apple TV, making Popcornflix one of the most widely distributed AVOD platforms in the US. In addition, Popcornflix is aggressively expanding internationally.

Cynopsis: Did you see the OTT revolution coming?
Fannon: Yes, once consumers were able to easily stream content on their desktops, it was evident that streaming to their TVs was soon to follow.

Popcornflix

Cynopsis: Why is Popcornflix working where others aren’t?
Fannon: Popcornflix works because the idea is simple – free movies and TV, with no downloads, subscriptions, or any other hassles. For example, Popcornflix collects no user information. We are happy to say you watch Popcornflix, but Popcornflix does not watch you. And I believe users appreciate and seek out that level of anonymity.

Cynopsis: There’s no simple solution for programmers as far as what direction to take with OTT. What’s your advice?
Fannon: Know you audience and cater to that audience. We have been successful with this, most recently with its genre channels Frightpix and Popcornflix Kids. Popcornflix on the other hand, because of its large and established user base, is able to cater to diverse audiences. For example, Popcornflix has blockbusters such as Monster with Charlize Theron, independent films and international award winners, kids series like Inspector Gadget, quality documentaries from National Geographic as well as reality shows like Cheaters.

Cynopsis: Where do you see the OTT model in five years?
Fannon: I believe there will be a lot of consolidation in the space. The overwhelming amount of choices that we have today will be replaced by more curated interfaces. Nonetheless, I see OTT offering a much bigger selection than cable ever did.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at [email protected].

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