FIRST LOOK: The How & Why Outside TV Leaps to SVOD to Claim to Adventure Enthusiast Viewership

MPN Begins Testing Original Programming with Plans for 2018 Push, says Digital GM, Rob Faris

Multi-platform video content provider Outside TV is looking to double down its efforts on staking claim on the adventure sports enthusiast — a battle it may struggle to win with other branded programmers like Patagonia and industry-dominant Red Bull ahead of them. It’s national cable channel, which was nominated for two Sports Emmy Awards in 2016, is one of the only national 24/7 networks dedicated to the active adventure lifestyle. And, at the end of last year, the company launched a streaming video on demand service — Outside TV Features, — to further expand the business’s penetration in the category. For Outside TV, the Features destination has historically syndicated formats, long and short form from both its own linear slate as well as partner content.

Just as many of the other hybrid video businesses we cover have, Outside TV Features has taken the leap into original programming behind a paywall, first with adventure travel series “Over the Horizon”.

The decision was not made lightly, Rob Faris, GM and SVP of Outside TV, told VideoInk on the company’s jump into SVOD, and for the small team operating digital, “Over the Horizon” is an early test to inform Outside TV’s strategy going into 2018.

And Faris gave VideoInk a first look into the team’s early strategy as Outside TV looks to ramp up its efforts in digital video:

VideoInk: The streaming business is particularly crowded right now but Outside TV has decide to push into the business, what drove that decision?

Rob Faris: The driving force behind our decision to launch Outside TV Features (our SVOD service) is to be the leader in Adventure Sports content. Our goal is to have the ability to develop and distribute our products on as many platforms as possible. We already have a linear cable TV network programming a 24/7 schedule. We already have a digital short-form offering on and with our syndication partners, so adding a subscription channel that has differentiated content from our TV Channel is an opportunity to reach a new audience. One that is not looking to consume content through traditional methods.

And now you’re producing your own original series for your streaming destination that doesn’t only entail syndicating your network content. What about “Over the Horizon” felt like the right first project?

Over the Horizon is great series to premiere on Features because of it’s aspirational nature. Ellis Emmett is a true adventurer, and this series showcases adventure travel in it’s purest form. For New Zealand-native Ellis, spending six months on a 56 foot “cutter rig” sailboat exploring the South Pacific, which for Ellis, is his “own backyard.” The sense of discovery that he experiences, while meeting people that are as unchanged by technology as you could possibly be in 2017. There is a sense of rawness and beauty to exploring the human condition that this series delivers, and with that a chance to broaden the audience that will be interested in watching this series.

Is there an eye towards pushing “Over the Horizon” to the network if it performs well?

We have every intention of implementing a windowing strategy to our exclusive and original content.

Cord cutting rates have climbed, there’s no denying the studies that increasingly show disruption for linear businesses. With that in mind, how is Outside thinking about the “future business model?”

We are content providers and content producers. We are storytellers, who are experts in the adventure and outdoor category. Outside as a brand started 40 years ago as a magazine, and still thrives as a magazine. We became a National TV Network 5 years ago, and also have built out a digital presence. In 2017, we introduced the subscription platform available via Outside TV Features, our free to download App. Our job will always be to provide great content across all platforms, and allow audiences to consume it how they most enjoy it.

What do you view as the benefits and/or drawbacks of building a hybrid ad- supported/freemium/subscription model?

We refer to it more as a holistic approach, rather than a hybrid approach. We have unique and differentiated content offerings available via the App, and the clear benefits are in the monetization model throughout all of it.

Is there a platform or publisher you think is doing video particularly well and why?

It is particularly hard for me to sit in my position and pick one, but I will say that since we launched Outside TV Features, the discovery is that each platform has unique ways of delivering to their respective customer base. Our focus has shifted to not only speak to our own fanbase, but also reach the customers of other platforms via strategic marketing of our adventure sports content.