GoPro Targets Reality TV Niche

GoPro, the maker of the popular line of wearable, high-quality cameras, cut its teeth with consumers in action sports, but it’s increasingly providing tools to producers of reality TV shows that need access to gear that can provide points-of-view other cameras can’t.

The reality TV segment has grown hot enough for 10-year-old GoPro that the company has created a unit that covers the professional video market for cinema, TV and even still photography, encroaching into areas that have typically been the domain of companies such as Sony, JVC and Panasonic.

“It’s definitely a point of focus for GoPro,” said Jim Geduldick, the company’s marketing manager focused on the pro video marketplace and tasked with developing relationships with studios, production companies and directors.

“You really want to make sure the focus of supporting those pros in the use of our cameras, especially with reality TV, and getting feedback on how they’re using our cameras on productions, what works for broadcast and what features they’d like to see,” he said.

Last Thursday (June 26), the company went public at $24 per share in an IPO that reportedly raised about $472.2 million and valued the company at $2.96 billion. GoPro shares were up $7.61 each, or 31.71%, to $31.61 each in late-day trading when its stock debuted on Nasdaq .

GoPro’s partnership activities have yielded some big-name clients in the reality TV world, including Bunim Murray and Mark Burnett Productions, National Geographic, Original Productions and Discovery Networks. GoPro’s handiwork can be seen on a wide range of reality and news-focused shows, including Survivor, Duck Dynasty, Iron Chef America, Deadliest Catch, Big Brother, 60 Minutes and Mythbusters, to name a few.

“They’re attractive to reality TV shows instead of having larger, ENG [electronic news gathering]-style cameras or full crews going around,” Geduldick said. “[Producers] can give it to one cinematographer or videographer, and they can run it out to a regular shotgun mike or recorder so they’re getting broadcast quality sound that they need.”

He said the hottest seller among reality TV producers is the Hero3+ Black Edition, GoPro’s $399.99 top-of-theline 12-megapixel model that can shoot up to 4K.

And those customers tend to buy in bulk, Geduldick said, noting that some reality TV show makers purchase multiple cameras on a quarterly basis because they typically work on overlapping productions.

GoPro sees itself as morphing into something much larger than a provider of cameras and accessories: a full-fledged media company that, in the spirit of what Red Bull has done with its Media House division, produces its own content and cultivates partnerships. The difference, of course, is that Go- Pro makes the actual video capture device.

That additional focus has paved the way for GoPro channels for the Xbox platform and Virgin America. “There’s a big push from us as a media company,” Geduldick said.

Members of the old guard have also developed products that are more tailored to reality TV. Panasonic’s new AJ-PX270 “Ultra” handheld camera, for example, has been made to shoot video at a lower bit rate without sacrificing quality.

That’s important in the “run-and-gun” shooting style of reality TV production because there tends to be a big gap between the amount of footage shot and how much of it makes the final cut, explained Steve Cooperman, Panasonic’s senior product manager. Another trend is the ability to live-stream images as they are being shot — a feature that’s also offered in Panasonic’s new handheld .

JVC has also enabled live streaming directly from the camera, offering that feature in its GYHM 650 handheld model and two shoulder- mounted models — the GYHM 850 and 890, Craig Yanagi, JVC’s manager of marketing and brand strategy, said.