TV producer Lemuel Plummer (Preachers Of LA ) has taken his talents to the web through the launch last month of millennials-targeted subscription VOD service Zeus. The $3.99 per month service will feature content created and promoted by some of the most popular personalities in social media, including King Bach, DeStorm Power, Lil Tay and Amanda Cerny.
I recently caught up with Zeus’ president and CEO to discuss the OTT service’s launch, as well as to talk about his thoughts about moving from linear TV into a growing and competitive digital SVOD space.
What do you want to accomplish with Zeus?
We are launching the first ever subscription video on demand platform created by millennials for millennials. For me it's really something near and dear to my heart. I've always wanted to own my own content and also give others the opportunity to own their content and monetize it in a different way. I've recognized that social media creators have been using the tools that they have to just create whatever content they can on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube Twitter. As a result, they've been getting tens of millions of people to watch their content weekly, daily, monthly, and there's a lot of power in that. The problem is a lot of these social media platforms do not create ways for influencers to monetize their content, nor do they provide them with the proper tools to do so. So what I've been trying to do is to give them the tools, a distribution platform and a monetization feature to allow them to make money from the content that they create, and to give them truly total freedom and creative control over their content.
You personally have successfully launched shows within the traditional media space. Can you expect the same type of audience and revenue success offering a SVOD service in the still emerging digital arena?
As you said I come from traditional television and I recognize that trying to sell shows to networks was becoming a lot more difficult because ratings were down all across the board. I also recognize that budgets were getting reduced, and the development process was becoming a lot more brutal as some cable networks were eroding and transitioning. At the same time eyeballs were transitioning to a lot of these video on demand platforms, whether AVOD, PVOD or SVOD. The numbers don't lie ... when you see some of the popular SVOD services like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, a lot of eyeballs are on these platforms, and they are evolving and growing. Yes, linear channels are still running but millennials and young folks are really watching short-form content on their mobile devices. Instagram recently announced that they have a billion users now; YouTube has over 1.5 billion monthly users. For me, I recognize that these creators are driving all of this traffic to these platforms.
What are the advantages of incorporating social media stars into Zeus’ overall business strategy?
The problem has been that these social media platforms are building billions of dollars in revenue and valuations were worth hundreds of billions of dollars off the backs of these creators, and I don't think it's fair. I wanted to create a platform to invite them to be strategic partners. Some of the top influencers in the world like Amanda Cerny, King Bach and DeStorm Power who have combined over 70 million followers across the board are actually equity partners in the company. It was important to give them that power, as well as the other creators on board who have a rights-share deal with us. So for me it was an important transition into this space … this is where [the industry] is headed and this is the future.
How do you then get the message out about Zeus and draw in subscribers?
We are currently utilizing our content creators' social media channels to market their series, so we've provided a ton of marketing assets to our creators, including trailers, posters and all sorts of promotional assets. That’s really what we believe is going to generate a ton of subscribers; they are going to promote across all of their social media platforms. Our strategy internally with our digital marketing team is to put some of our own assets out in a different way as well. So for me and for all of us at Zeus we understand that the more promotional assets that we can put out, the more it drives traffic to these platforms.