Vivendi relaunches Watchever with SVOD ‘channels’

Watchever is being relaunched with a raft of international content companies launching channel-type offerings on the German SVOD service.

Karim_AyariWatchever is owned by Vivendi. Last year the French media giant implemented a transformation plan and brought in Karim Ayari to run the service.

Speaking exclusively to TBI about the relaunch, Ayari said: “We feel we need to move to the next level of SVOD. We’re seeing the big players evolve, and we want to take a different route. It’s not all about being a me-too service to Netflix, because there are different strategies.”

The result for the Watchever service is a new look, but more significantly, the introduction of ‘channels’. These are programmed and organised by content owners, offering them greater control and opening up a wider selection of content for subscribers.

“We have lots of usage data and have concluded there is a better way to provide people with a better UI and content,” said Ayari. “The biggest pain people specify is how long it takes them to look for what they want, and we want to create something like an [SVOD] department store.”

The channels will not be ordered by genre, but by brand. Watchever has deals with CBS, Disney, NBCUniversal and Sony as well as 
Vivendi stablemate StudioCanal and BBC Worldwide, and the initial channels roster 
includes CBS, Disney Movies on Demand, BBC First, MTV and Universal Music. There will also be Doctor Who and Jamie Oliver channels.

WATCHEVER-NEW-Homepage-Preview.jpgThe changes are designed to help Watchever stand out in Germany, the biggest TV market in Europe. Within the SVOD sector the Vivendi-owned service fights it out withAmazon, Netflix and ProSieben’s Maxdom.

It does not break out customer numbers, but is understood to have slightly under 300,000 subs.

The new channel-led makeover combines some of the attributes of a pay TV platform, where customers are offered an aggregated selection of channels. “We are in a post-Netflix world, so it shouldn’t be a TV-user experience, but there is still a lot of value in having a ‘channel’,” said Ayari.

“We can offer engagement and promote brands and content in the same way as a cable company, but we are still OTT. We wanted to take the best from both worlds, and subscribers can still navigate through search.”

The streaming service will offer more detailed information and usage data to the content outfits launching channels, and the new system means a deeper, relationship with these companies.

“They will do more than just bring their catalogue, and we will be doing more than just buying it and 
putting it online,” said Ayari. “We will discuss marketing, promote their brand and we will also be more open with our data.

“Another aspect is that, by introducing 
channels in this way, we can bring to the 
surface content that might not otherwise get found. This won’t make blockbusters out of small content, but it can influence how 
successful it is on Watchever.”