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VRV to Add CuriosityStream to SVOD Mix, Launch Offline Viewing

VRV, the SVOD aggregation service from Ellation, is looking to broaden its audience by expanding its content slate while also tacking on some new features to its OTT platform about a year after VRV launched in beta form.

VRV, a service that has anchored itself to genres like anime and animation, will soon add CuriosityStream, the OTT service from Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks that develops and licenses a library of fact-based programming and “edu-tainment” content. CuriosityStream also sells the service on its own and through a partnership with Amazon Channels.

The addition of CuriosityStream “opens up a new vertical” for VRV, Arlen Marmel, VRV’s general manager, said.

VRV, he added, is also looking to add more content to its SVOD bundle as well as some exclusive content from partners such as Mondo and Cartoon Hangover, without altering the price. Two other “prominent” but still-unnamed SVOD channels will be coming to VRV later in 2017.

“Our goal is to be big, but not broad,” Marmel said, noting that SVOD services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix have the mainstream consumer category pretty much sewn up.

VRV also has plans underway to augment and enhance the features of its platform. One key addition, slated for later this year, will be offline viewing that will enable VRV subscribers to download most of the shows and series that are offered from VRV's SVOD channel partners.

VRV will also be expanding its reach to Apple TV and Android TV devices, complementing its support today on smartphones, tablets, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, certain Roku player models, and the Google Chromecast streaming adapter.

VRV also released some numbers and metrics that appear to demonstrate that there’s a need for its curation/aggregation model for SVOD.

VRV said it now has 1.5 million registered users, and 1 million “active” users (those who visit VRV at least once in a given month). Its platform has also delivered more than 1 billion minutes (or 15 million hours) of watched video and served up about 50 million video views. VRV said its average user spends about three hours per week watching content on VRV, while premium users spend about five hours per week (or about 43 minutes per day) on the service.

VRV isn’t releasing subscriber figures. "We are pleased with what we’ve seen,” Marmel said. “We’ve seen high levels of engagement from that premium segment.”

The vast majority of subscribers take VRV’s bundled “Combo Pack,” which sells for $9.99 per month, and today includes Crunchyroll, Funimation, Rooster Teeth, Cartoon Hangover, Shudder, Geek & Sundry, Nerdist, Mondo, Tested, as well as VRV Select, a recently launched premium “house channel” that features curated content from the company’s various partner channels. VRV is also moving on a plan announced in August to combine The Nerdist and Geek & Sundry into a new VOD channel to be called Alpha.

There’s about $35 of value in VRV’s bundle today. VRV expects to extend that to beyond $50 by year-end as it adds more content to that bundle, Marmel said.

Though VRV uses a fixed-free model today, it will also explore new variable models that will enable the service to bring on more content partners. It might also start to take a closer look at live and linear-style offerings that complement its current VOD focus, Marmel said.

VRV parent company Ellation is a portfolio company of Otter Media, the OTT-focused joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group.

Much more about VRV’s revised strategy, its future plans, and competitive pressures will be featured in the November 6 edition of Multichannel News.