Crackle, Revry, Vevo execs talk new ISA forum

Denver -  A consortium of 10 key independent players in the ad-supported streaming video space announced the formation of a new alliance Monday, and leaders from Crackle, Revry, and Vevo discussed the need for the organization, while acknowledging much work needs to be done.

In addition to those three companies, other founding members of the Independent Streaming Alliance include Allen Media Group, Cineverse, Scripps, Future Today, kweliTV, Tastemade, and TMB (Trusted Media Brands) The participating independent FASTs and AVODs represent those serving a variety of unique and niche content, with free ad-supported TV services that are not owned by major media companies (such as Paramount’s Pluto, Fox’s Tubi, Comcast’s Xumo, etc), or OEM smart TV players (such as Samsung TV Plus, LG Channels and Vizio’s WatchFree+), or Amazon’s Freevee and The Roku Channel.

But as pointed out Monday by analyst Alan Wolk during TVREV’s FAST panel workshop at the StreamTV Show in Denver, this third tier of FAST players, while sometimes getting lost in the shuffle, are each special to the ecosystem as well.

Speaking at the TVREV workshop during the StreamTV Show, Damian Pelliccione, CEO and co-founder of LGBTQ+-focused streaming service Revry explained why now was the right time to come together through ISA.

“I think that having this type of alliance now, with all the independent streamers, none of us owned by one of the majors, allows us to start to come together as one organization and fight for our rights,” they said.

As to what some of those rights are, Natalie Gabathuler-Scully, EVP, of Revenue Distribution and Data Operations at Vevo, explained that the group is looking forward to having a forum for the various members to solve for problems around distribution, measurement and programming. Vevo has 20 FAST music video channels distributed across 35 platforms.

She said the ISA is about being able to discuss with each other what’s happening in the space, including “the market that we’re seeing, the ad dollars that we’re seeing, and have a forum where we can comfortably bring things up and resolve those topics.”

Specifically ISA has three working groups at the onset, focused on areas of measurement, distribution and demand, where they see both opportunity and challenges.

And Darren Olive, president of ad sales at Crackle Connex, part of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said that the various steering groups and committees the ISA has in place are not just self- serving.

Rather, it’s “really helping the ad community and helping customers and consumers get what they want, which is great free and ad-supported content.”

On that demand side that means being open and having discussions with DSPs, their clients and agencies. It’s about opening dialogue and also getting feedback from that part of the ecosystem about their needs.

“We want you to have a seat at the table to tell us where we’re going in the right direction, and frankly, where we may be going in the wrong direction in terms of what they need," said Olive.

He also pointed to measurement, data and ultimately getting to a point of currency. Currently ISA is working with iSpot as an initial partner to quantify incremental reach of the consortium and try to answer, “are the ad dollars commensurate with the viewing hours and time?” on the independent platforms.

It’s also about working with OEMS and devices, to ensure the independent players are doing the right things to get their content in front of the right people, “whether it’s through a FAST channel, an app or both.”

Measurement key, but work to be done

In terms of what that means for bringing things to market, Olive said that the group won’t be going to the market in an Upfront scenario saying marketers can buy the ISA today, as it’s not exactly open for business in negotiating deals at this point.

It does want to have engaged buying discussions, Olive noted, be it programmatically or direct – but he acknowledged that today’s announcement isn’t to say that the ISA is open for business and negotiating deals at this point.

While iSpot is an initial partner the group plans to expand to additional measurement partners – to try and quantify, are advertisers spending the right amount of money, or allocating the right mix to these types of publishers. Right now he equated the group’s effort to being “at the one-yard line, with 99 to go.”

Pelliccione also commented on having diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging subcommittee efforts where they said the companies have more strength as a unified cohort.

“It’s really exciting because, at least from the perspective a minority owned certified and operated business, it’s great to be partnered with such big companies and to be in that company that we have at the ISA,” they noted. “So we can also be uplifted all together, and more powerful as a group.”