Today at SXSW, Vevo plans to introduce Vevo TV, a "fully programmed, linear, 24/7, lean-back experience," CEO Rio Caraeff tells Fast Company, which he stresses will be "more TV-like" than the traditional Vevo experience.
What does it mean to be more TV-like? Vevo's music video service, which receives most of its traffic through its integration with YouTube, has long been about the one-off experience: Users could find and watch videos on-demand through search and recommendations. But now, Vevo's new television channel will offer an around-the-clock curated experience of original programming, including live concerts and TV shows. It will not only help up ramp up viewership on Vevo, which already sees 52 million monthly uniques, but also serve as a push to disassociate the company from YouTube.
At launch, Vevo TV will be available as an always-on broadcast channel through apps on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Xbox, Roku, and on Vevo's website. The experience is multicast, meaning, "everybody sees the exact same thing at the exact same time, no matter what platform you're accessing it from," says Caraeff, who adds that the channel will serve as a complement to its on-demand business: When users jump into a show late, they'll be able to flag it to watch it on-demand later. Like traditional television, it will come with a 24-hour schedule of programming blocks, and soon feature hosts and VJs, operating much the same way as MTV did in its early days.
The company will eventually launch other linear channels in international markets like Germany and the U.K. And, as Caraeff tells us, "a little bit further down the road you'll see us partner with the traditional cable and satellite [networks], and bundle our on-demand videos and linear channel with the incumbent players."
That could represent a huge opportunity for advertising and distribution. Vevo has already locked in big-name brands like McDonald's and State Farm to Vevo TV; if it launches on traditional television, which Caraeff promises will happen on at least cable or satellite platform by the year's end, expect more advertisers to jump on board.
It also represents the biggest opportunity for Vevo to mature as an autonomous brand. The company has long by synonymous with YouTube. But ironically as rumors float of a huge investment from Google into Vevo, which Rio could not comment on, the music video service is taking its biggest leap yet away from its parent traffic source YouTube. Vevo TV, for example, will not be distributed on YouTube, despite its close relationship with Google.
"It will really help us build our brand off of YouTube," says Caraeff. "We're not putting the channel on YouTube. We're distributing the channel everywhere else. That means fundamentally it's a Vevo viewer, and it will help transform the perception as to who we are as a company off of YouTube. It will differentiate us."