Katya Shkolnik, Head of Partnerships at Future Today

Ask The Experts: Publishers

November 8, 2018

Video. Anytime. Anywhere. That’s the motto that guides Future Today in the company’s quest to bridge content owners with millions of viewers from around the world. A pioneer in the realm of connected TV, Future Today owns and operates some of the largest channels on OTT platforms across verticals like lifestyle, entertainment and food. We spoke with Future Today’s Head of Partnerships Katya Shkolnik to learn more about Future Today’s unique position as a major connected TV video content provider and her thoughts on upcoming trends for 2019.

Where does the name Future Today come from?

When we started in 2006 the concept of streaming television was futuristic. The mass exodus from traditional broadband cable to consuming most video online seemed further off on the horizon. The name Future Today conveys how we embrace the future of video starting today!

Tell us a little about your content and audience. What sets it apart from other publishers?

Our main differentiation is a healthy diversity of content. We segment our library of 150,000+ videos into three main buckets: movies and TV, kids and family, and lifestyle. Our flagship apps in each category, Filmrise, HappyKids, and iFood.tv, are consistently among the top 25 channels on Roku. While a female skew is representative of the kids and lifestyle content, the movie channels attract more male viewership. Our ability to tailor content to varied audience segments sets us apart from our competition.

With so many things to watch on so many platforms, what draws people in to Future Today and keeps them coming back for more?

A lot of it has to do with content. HappyKids is a top Roku app with minimal promotion. This means content is sticky with a high user return rate. We have also found that a simple user experience allowing for easy and seamless content discovery and consumption is key.

Consumers have so many ways to watch video content – why is Future Today particularly bullish about connected TV?

Three words: comfort, choice and value. Contrary to what a lot of people think, the vast majority of video consumption today, across both digital and linear, still happens on television. At the end of the day, for long form content, TV is still a major draw with 90%+ of all video consumption happening in the comfort of a lean-back, big-screen environment. Clearly TV as a form factor is not going away. What is going away is appointment-based viewing which directly results in more content choices for consumers. There are now substantially more bundles to choose from than simply linear television. The option of a few SVOD services, or jumping from one service to the other based on favorite shows, or even fully relying on free ad-supported services such as ours are all on the table. Also, from a cost perspective, CTV offers so much more value to consumers compared to the traditional model. Finally, with CTV, families don’t have to break the bank for premium content!

What is a development in the OTT/CTV landscape you’re looking forward to? Do you think there will be any major trends that start in 2019?

An increase in popularity in free ad supported television. Most folks are still consuming a blend of SVOD and ASV services, but we expect to see a significant shift in the ratio of content consumed through subscription based services to free ad supported environments in 2019. As people are cutting down traditional cable, they will increasingly look for free options to supplement  their subscription services. A recent IAB study found that  2 out of 5 users confirm this shift in their specific households. Additionally, cord-cutters were found to be more responsive to ads and buying products and brands in digital environments. Thus the migration to free content in exchange for ads is a natural progression in the CTV ecosystem.

What is the most important thing that the industry has to solve for?

Hands down – better targeting and measurement. This is something the industry simply has to adopt. The CTV landscape today is extremely fragmented so the question is how will these methodologies be standardized and who will drive adoption.

 

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