Xumo, an over the top (OTT) and video on demand (VOD) network, has developed close relationships with smart TV manufacturers like LG, Vizio, Panasonic, and others, and is now available in nearly 20 million smart TVs in the U.S.
On the content front, Xumo has been able to offer online publishers like Time Inc., BuzzFeed, PopSugar, and Mashable a way to distribute their videos that are mostly watched on desktops and mobile devices.
While Xumo has grown because of TV viewership, it announced a new mobile app last week at VidCon, giving viewers a synced experience. Xumo also announced at the conference new partnerships with Cracked, Jukin Media’s The Pet Collective and People Are Awesome.
For more on the announcements, short form video trends, and partnerships with device manufacturers, we caught up with Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris:
Found Remote: What does Xumo hope to accomplish at VidCon this year?
Colin Petrie-Norris: We’re looking forward to unveiling a whole new lineup that VidCon attendees are sure to love like Jukin Media’s Pet Collective and People Are Awesome. Entertainment has always been important when it comes to video consumption, but for people on-the-go, it’s even more important. To that end, we’re excited to be announcing a whole new comedy lineup full of brands that make it their mission to make people laugh like Just for Laughs, Cracked, Comedy Dynamics and Funny or Die. All the brands that people currently stream via Xumo on their smart TVs can now be streamed on our mobile app. We’re excited for people to be able to take their favorite TV content, on-the-go.
FR: No one can question the growth of short form content, but it has mainly been limited to mobile devices and PCs. Why do you think people are ready to consume content from BuzzFeed and magazine publishers on their TVs.
Petrie-Norris: The TV is still the biggest screen in the home and the features of those TVs have only gotten better. When you’re at home, you don’t want to sit hunched over your phone or desktop - you want to be able to easily navigate through today’s viral videos from BuzzFeed the way you select what you want to watch from your DVR. We’ve gone a step farther and made it easier for people to navigate from brand to brand. People can essentially ‘channel surf’ in between the brands they stream on mobile while they’re out, on their TVs at home.
FR: What have you learned about how people are consuming short form content on their TVs?
Petrie-Norris: The most interesting trend has been that around news. Short-form breaking news performs very well Xumo. Building off the live and breaking aspect genres, we recently decided to host our first live event with one of our partners, Network A. The event out-performed our expectations and we were pleased that Xumo users added an additional 10% to all viewers who tuned into the event.
We are continuously learning things about our users - what type of genres perform best in short-form, how willing they are to enjoy long-form films from partners such as Fandor and now live events. Through it all, we’re seeing consistent growth and are agility as a team allows us to make changes and optimize almost immediately.
FR: Why go the route of partnering with device manufacturers rather than existing OTT platforms like Roku and Amazon Fire?
Petrie-Norris: Back when we were starting the business, we recognized that in order to make a bigger impact on the way that people experienced - not just consumed - television, it was necessary to go to the source. A great example of how we’ve been able to influence the television experience is what we’ve built with LG. Channel Plus is our OTT service that comes built-in to the new webOS 3.0. It’s essentially a linear experience where RF and OTT are integrated into one allowing cord-cutters, nevers, and shavers to navigate through channels brought in over antenna and the additional hundred we’re delivering over their internet connection. Along with live feeds, users can access full video-on-demand libraries from each of our content partners. People want easy. They want to be able to watch what they want without fussing with a million remotes, or trying to figure out the right input or hiding the massive amount of cords dangling from the back of their TV.
Our goal, however, is to deliver our content to as many people as possible for free, so you’ll be able to access Xumo on existing OTT platforms, as well.
FR: How do you help publishers monetize the content they run through Xumo? Why do you think platforms like yours will enable them to command higher CPMs?
Petrie-Norris: Because of our close relationship with Viant, we are able to create specialized campaigns that include targeting levels previously only available for desktop and mobile. The user experience comes first for us, however. So, we work with our publishers to optimize the experience for all parties.