In a world where stock video footage and production is typically expensive to license and is bound by restrictive licenses, Video Blocks wants to provide a low-cost alternative to incumbents like Getty Images. To do that, it’s rolled out a subscription-based service that gives any subscribers unlimited downloads of its royalty-free stock audio and video clips.
Already profitable, and with more than 5 million media objects downloaded by subscribers since launching 18 months ago, Video Blocks is looking to accelerate its revenue growth. So it’s raised a $10.5 million Series A funding round led by Updata Partners, with includes participation from QED Investors.
How is it able to have a subscription service like this and be profitable? Well for one thing, Video Blocks owns all the distribution rights to its entire video library — so it can decide how it wants to license its clips or make them available to users. And rather than raking licensees over the coals for access to individual clips, it’s decided to make high-quality clips available for a low monthly fee. Customers can sign up and download an unlimited number of clips for just $79 a month, which is a fraction of what it costs to license a single piece of B-roll on other sites.
One other thing that sets it apart is the quality of its clips. Video Blocks CEO Joel Holland told me that it doesn’t want to have the largest library of clips, but the best library. It’s got more than 50,000 clips, which is an impressive amount, but still pales in comparison to other clip marketplaces.
Its media assets include stock video, motion backgrounds, After Effects templates, special effects, production music, and sound effects. It focuses on trying to find the type of clips that people want to include in their own pieces, using data mining techniques on its own site as well as from other web and video services to determine which clips are in most demand.
It creates its own clips to add to its video library, as well as hiring contractors to shoot specific content for it. It’s also gone out and acquired perpetual rights from other content creators to add their content to its collection. Holland tells me that today, about half of its content was filmed by its own creators, and about half of it has been acquired.
Video Blocks has already acquired some big-name broadcasters as customers, including NBC, CBS, Fox, History, and Discovery, Holland told me. But its focus isn’t really on those customers. It’s got four distinct different types of customers, he said, and the network guys are just one group.
In addition, it’s seen adoption from specialist groups like education markets and churches, with more than 1,000 congregations using its clips during their sermons.* It also gets a lot of customers who are freelancers or “prosumers” — who use its media assets in work that they produce for others. There’s also a growing consumer hobbyist group that use Video Blocks clips in their own home-made videos.
While the one-size-fits-all model is probably not be optimized for all its different customer groups: There are certainly broadcasters who could afford to pay more — and would — and there are consumers who would sign up if only Video Blocks were priced a little more cheaply. But Holland says that the company wants to keep its pricing model as simple as possible. Users can also come and go as they please, and can sign up, download as many clips as they want, and cancel at any time.
With that in mind, Video Blocks is giving TechCrunch readers a huge break: Its usual yearly price is $948, but it’s offering our readers a full year of unlimited downloads for just $99. For stock footage aficionados, that’s a huge discount. To take advantage of it, click www.videoblocks.com/join/ and enter the code TECHCRUNCH when you sign up.**
* Crazy, right? I know!
** Yes, it’s like an ad, but wow!