Video Discovery App Showyou Launches A Platform For Subscription VOD Channels

Over the past several years, Showyou has been in the business of helping users find interesting videos that might appeal to them. Now it’s preparing to flip its model just a little, with the introduction of a new way for content owners to find viewers and get paid for their videos with the launch of a subscription channel store.

This isn’t the first time Showyou has put some effort behind the concept of channels. Last summer, it announced that partners could create channels of videos that they could then place advertising against. Those channels included the ability to set custom backgrounds, featured images, and the like.

But monetization didn’t take off. The idea was that ads would run as interstitials in between a channel’s videos. Still, for ad revenue to matter, you need a high number of viewers to really pay off. Selling videos — and selling access to them — can be a little bit easier, however.

For Showyou’s newest channel initiative, the company is providing a way for content owners to build channels and set up Netflix-like subscription video-on-demand services around them. Once again, content owners will be able to customize their channels, but this time they’ll be able to upload videos directly into the Showyou system and create playlists that can allow users to watch videos in a “lean back” experience.

Along with the platform for creating channels, Showyou is releasing a Channel Store for users to find and subscribe to. Users will be able to pay for channels on a month-to-month or yearly basis, giving them access to all the on-demand videos in those channels for as long as they would like.

Content owners are able to set their own prices for subscriptions, of which Showyou takes a 20 percent cut of all sales. Once subscribed, users will also be able to browse all the various videos within those channels, and channel owners will be able to add their videos to different genres or groups to help users discover some they’d like to watch.

The first two partners for Showyou’s channel store initiative are Indieflix and Above Average. Indieflix is sort of like Netflix for independent films, with access to more than 5,000 movies produced by indie film makers. Meanwhile, Above Average is an online comedy network from the production company behind Saturday Night Live that produces a number of comedy series for the web.

Those channels are coming first to Showyou’s web and iOS apps, and will be added to its other apps over time. Showyou’s hoping to benefit from the use of AirPlay and Chromecast support to enable users to send videos directly to a TV from their mobile device. It’s also available on Amazon’s Fire TV and is looking to expand to other TV-connected devices over time.

By doing so, the company is hoping to provide content owners with an alternative distribution platform for their videos, and one that doesn’t require them to try to make money through advertising or be a part of a cable or other bundle of channels. Users pay only for access to the content they want, and can quit at any time.

Showyou Channels could end up serving as a new revenue stream for YouTube video producers who are looking for ways to make money beyond the platform’s existing ad-based system. Already, some multichannel networks are working on their own off-YouTube distribution platforms, but Showyou could offer a way for them to create first-look subscription channels or offer behind-the-scenes footage for shows that get added to their YouTube channels.

Ultimately, though, it will depend on how many users actually show up to purchase those channels. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the online video ecosystem, it’s that distribution and monetization aren’t as easy as “If you build it, they will come.”