23 MAY 2023

Mark Ashbridge: "We are focussed on curating and creating content for audiences on platforms"

CEO of VA Media, explains the business model of the AVOD monetization platform and anticipates how the AVOD landscape will evolve in the next years.

23 MAY 2023

Mark Ashbridge

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Based in Sydney and Melbourne, VA Media built one of the largest networks of film channels and unscripted content on YouTube, attracting 15 million subscribers and generating significant revenue for its distribution partners. Mark Ashbridge, CEO of the company, talked exclusively with Señal News about the different business models they offer and their profitability.

What business model do you offer to your customers?
"VA Media has 3 models, the first one is the Licensed Content Model where VA licenses movies and series from over 60+ global distributors, curating titles to its growing number of Owned and Operated channels on YouTube. The second one is Services Model where VA works with content companies, producers and or distributors to build out channel(s) brands and create social content formats for YouTube, Facebook, SNAP and TikTok to drive audience growth and monetisation. Finally, VA Media offers IP protection, helping clients protect content on YouTube and soon to be Facebook."

What new opportunities do you observe in the ever-changing audiovisual landscape we live in today?
"From a platform perspective, we see YouTube as the largest AVOD platform in the world driven by its superior content management system which allows publishers to go global to generate maximum revenue and audience engagement, or geo block content to support other licensing objectives within a business. The rise of AVOD and FAST is a well-documented opportunity that most companies are actively participating in. We’ve recently launched a global Spanish language channel called Movie Central en Español which is our quickest growing channel at the moment. For VA, we see a significant opportunity in continuing to create social video formats that can be monetised on multiple platforms on a global scale. Having already generated meaningful revenues for our clients, VA is now producing original content that will be distributed on our existing network of channels and through our global partner networks. The two-way flow between podcast and vodcast remains a key format opportunity in this area. In addition, the evolution of FAST provides an opportunity for content curators to satisfy audiences around specific interest niche genres like never before. Our communities rely on us to provide them with an ongoing stream of content they love on any platform. VA has two brands set to launch in 2023. Research indicates Entertainment and Education are the number 1 and 2 areas that will be improved using AI. While VA is actively producing shorts content, we are looking closely at opportunities in language and short form content creation."

How do you analyse the current growth and expansion of AVOD platforms?
"Being a member of OTT.X helps us keep on top of AVOD trends, we run webinars from time to time through them to share the knowledge we have with regard to social video monetisation, and we spend a lot of time interacting with the tools and research papers they provide around AVOD and VOD trends. Internally, we are on the largest platform of all, YouTube, and we utilize the metrics and data to preform critical analysis of how to optimize individual title monetization. We find that if correctly harnessed, the data we get from our movie and unscripted YouTube channels provides us valuable insights."

What predictions can you make about the future of social media monetization?
"The impression I have is that we are in a significant period of change as the leading social video platforms try to match each other’s product offerings and gain a larger share of the ad revenue. We are focussed on curating and creating content for audiences on platforms that can provide meaningful returns and at this stage rely on advertising to support our efforts, both of which YouTube and Facebook have a proven track record. We are also considering direct-to-consumer revenue opportunities in niche areas on a market-by-market basis."

How YouTube and VA Media are leading the way in providing content that was previously unavailable on a global scale?
"VA looks to provide a unique experience on a global scale for our communities. We license library content from over 60 third-party providers in specific genres that may no longer have a place on traditional and or VOD platforms and in some cases never made it to traditional distribution points, this provides a service to our audiences, whether it be from a cost or access perspective. YouTube is a driver of our model due to its global reach and ease of access and it currently dominates the digital video advertising market. At LA Screenings, we’re on the lookout for additional partners who are just now investigating these emerging ways to monetize content on a global scale which makes us an excellent partner to expand the reach of their existing and developing content."