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Viewster started life as a global movie licensing company for other video-on-demand platforms, such as NetFlix. At the suggestion of device manufacturers, it then decided to offer its own end-to-end application across Android, iOS and Windows platforms.“We looked at the stock of licensing rights we had built up and discovered that we had at least 1000 movies available for any country in the world,” Henniges explains. “So this enabled us to offer global deals to the manufacturers who love the idea of having a video-on-demand app they can put on all their devices worldwide.”In 2012, the company grew by 700 per cent and served over a billion videos in 120 countries. The Australian market is an important one for Viewster, representing around 20 per cent of the company’s global turnover. “The real skill is convincing content holders about the benefits of the advertising finance model. Getting content for a subscription or transactional video service is reasonably straightforward, so long as you have the negotiation skill and the money available to do deals. But on the advertising finance side, they often need some coaxing before they are sure they want to support that model.”According to Henniges, ‘free’ is likely to become the biggest business model in the video streaming space moving forward. Naturally, video piracy is the other significant challenge facing Viewster; a shadowy rival that Henniges describes as the “invisible whale” of the industry.“The download numbers on the torrent platforms are frightful — there is such a huge free on-demand market out there for people who want the very latest content but do not want to pay for it,” Henniges explained.“To give you an indication, on the same day that US authorities shut down [file-sharing site] Mega Upload, we saw a traffic spike of 20 per cent, because we’re one of the few legal alternatives that is free to watch. These people suddenly panicked that they wouldn’t be able to get free movies anymore, so they gave us a try.”Naturally, the advantage of illegal alternatives is the lack of advertisements. A typical movie on Viewster will typically contain ten advertisements interspersed at eight minute intervals, with most ads running between 15 and 20 seconds.A premium ad-free service is also offered by Viewster, but it has found the free model is vastly more popular across all markets.