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Can an upstart global video streaming service compete with Netflix and Amazon?

Global video streaming service We Are Colony is amassing a war chest to scale its content offering in order to forge a place in a market currently dominated by Netflix and Amazon.

It may sound like a lofty goal, but the business believes its combination of community, curation and extra content beyond films will secure the funding required to get closer to it. It started a Seedrs campaign this week (10 February) to gain the £500,000 needed in the hope that it can set it on its way to scale its early beta success.

We Are Colony is set to launch this month following a year in beta, a period it used to amass over 40 licensors globally, including BBC Films and Film4, and push into 115 markets.

Much of the service’s success to date has been predicated on an offer that’s noticeably different to its rivals. We Are Colony has a small library of films though each one typically has extra features usually found on a DVD as well as those that aren’t like a script of concept art. Customers of the pay-as-go service also benefit from the fact that the platform’s creators work with a wide range of content owners from independent film makers to international distributors meaning a broad palette of films on offer.

Despite establishing a boutique proposition in this period, the service is still shaping its business strategy. “We’re transactional only at the moment but we have plans to explore a subscription model at some point over the next year,” said We Are Colony’s founder Sarah Tierney.

The Oscar-nominated and Bafta-winning film maker’s prospects for her service are buoyed by what she claimed is a growing audience that’s “young and massively social”. Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of the site’s monthly traffic comes from social, continued Tierney who is keen to stress that the service isn’t just for film buffs.

It’s that audience and how they use the platform that Tierney hopes to turn into revenue for We Are Colony moving forward. Whereas most streaming services keep audience data close to their chests, We Are Colony wants to be the video streaming service that helps content producers understand their viewers in the hope that they continue to share their productions.

“It’s fascinating how little knowledge licensors get back from their distribution partners, said Tierney.

“I think there’s an interesting offering here around what we can share with our partners. It could be everything from demographics to what device viewers are using or what payment provider they prefer. All that stuff can really help licensors to understand how to better package their titles both on our platform and off it.”

Plans are also afoot to trumpet the We Are Colony brand harder in the coming months. But rather than push the brand itself, marketing across press, PR and paid social will focus on the titles, which Tierney claimed is We Are Colony’ “Trojan horse” to pulling new customers to the platform.

“We see Netflix and Amazon as massive marketplaces that don’t offer an engrossing experience for people,” she continued. “We want to raise a war chest to scale our early beta success and we also want to really encourage our community to come with us.”

Seb Joseph

Hi, I'm the news editor at The Drum. Give me a shout if you have any questions about our news coverage or would like to pitch in a story.

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