Screenhits is a one-of-a-kind two-face website. One part is dedicated to the general public, where viewers can watch TV shows and films for free with adverts or pay a subscription to watch them ad-free. The other part is a niche business website, an online retailer for creative series content, where distributors can find a selection of around 200 shows with a hit potential. As strange as it may sound, Screenhits is the first on the market to have come up with such a simple idea.
The two-year old company does not aim at being a smaller Netflix. It has chosen to focus on new shows. Viewers can watch and rate pilots, saying whether they liked them and would pay for watching it.
Watch Rose Adkins present her company:
They are two different audiences on your website, in which proportion do they use Screenhits?
Rose Adkins: It looks like there are two different audiences on the website when they actually are complementary. Within our structure, all our departments work on both sides.
One aspect of this is, for instance, the panel showcase that had a soft launch recently. On this panel, viewers get to see pilots and say whether they liked them or not and, most importantly, to say “yes I would pay for that”. And many of our viewers have engaged with the panel. They actually say what they think of a show and it is important data to producers and distributors that are on our website.
This B2B (business to business) audience is a niche one and they can access the site by invitation only.
For the consumers audience, we really worked to build a community; we had to get out there and find the right people. We are now available in more than 30 million households through our new Samsung partnership that we announced during this MIPCOM.
Then we had to keep them. And this is why we decide to work mainly on TV series. With drama, people come and watch a movie, then walk away and never come back. With a series they have to come back. And our percentage of return visitors is 80%.
Your principle of “see it before everyone does” is a very attractive one but it is also a dangerous one. How do you get people to watch shows they have never heard of before?
Rose Adkins: It does mean that we have to truly push the content. We really work with our producers and distributors on this. We target stars and themes that we know the audience like and then we go out there, looking for people. We do so by blogging, with backlinks, tweets of celebrities that are on the shows and we end up reaching a lot of people.
And this is why we only have 200 shows on the website at all times, to offer only the best and new and to be able to do that work on each one of them.
“we have to truly push the content”
Rose Adkins, founder and CEO of Screenhits
Do you plan to replace MIPCOM?
Rose Adkins: Twenty years ago I already went to NAPE [the biggest content market event in the USA]. But in twenty years, the industry has changed and some of our buyers don’t have the budget to go to these conferences, find a decent hotel room for their team. There will still be conferences because, in our business, face-to-face meeting is very important but buyers can no longer wait six months to discover new content.
I used to work in sales and I would have loved to use something like what we are offering to our clients. During these conferences, you have to ask the same question over and over again just to find what you want. Our platform can answer that question. Our buyers post a request for what they are looking for, the genre they would like, for instance, and only the shows that truly match their request are presented to them.
Being somehow at the crossroad of over-the-top and linear, how do you see the two can work together… or not work together?
Rose Adkins: It depends on how a linear company evaluates the situation. For example, we have worked with a cable network. It gave us an old first season of a series to promote the new season that would then be broadcast on cable.
Some others do not want to hear about it, about tablets etc. But they will be the future and to ignore it is to risk ending as the music industry did.
People on the production side are more into it as they are willing to push their content out there in any way possible.
Some linear companies are still worried about copyrights but they are putting their foot in the door. For them it is a matter of finding the right window to retain their rights. It will be interesting to see how smart TVs are going to work on that matter for linear, all the more as they are some existing technology that should be available by 2015, 2016 that will allow people to watch tv on their tv as they do at present on their tablets…