The multichannel streaming service for niche genres, VRV, recently celebrated one year online.
Since the launch, VRV has amassed 1.5 million registered users, of which 1 million are active monthly. Average users spend 3 hours a week watching VRV video; premium users are watching 5 hours per week, totalling 15 million hours of programming and 50 billion video views.
Catering to the “superfans” of anime, animation, comedy, horror, science and technology, VRV, part of Ellation, offers 10 channels as part of the service, including programming from Crunchyroll, Funimation, Rooster Teeth, Cartoon Hangover, Shudder, Mondo, Tested, Geek & Sundry, Nerdist, and a special channel for premium subscribers, VRV Select, with CuriosityStream coming soon.
VRV is available as an OTT service through iOS, Android, Xbox One, PS4, Roku, and Comcast apps, with Apple TV and Amazon device support coming early next year.
We talked to VRV GM Arlen Marmel who explained the origins of VRV to Next TV News.
“Several years ago we set out on a journey to build a central hub for what we at the time called the ‘fandom,’ and we recognized that there are a bunch of niche services out there, and the market is growing. Crunchyroll is one the largest anchors in that ecosystem. Can we build a hub that from a user standpoint creates a gathering place, a home for all of the brands and channels that they know and love, allows them to connect with like minded people, and a product that that by virtue of focusing on those niche fandoms allows you to build an experience that maybe caters a little more intimately to that audience”?
VRV aims to lessen the fragmentation and currently seen in OTT, and to lower barriers to scale that the various content provider channels are seeing.
“Netflix has set a really high bar for what a streaming service needs to be today,” said Mamel. “Our view was that for Crunchyroll to scale, some hard choices have to be made about what we can and can’t do – certainly all the other players in the ecosystem are in a similar boat – so let us band together, and bring the experience and product features and capabilities of a Netflix like service to market. So for the short term, that means features like device accessibility such as an offline viewing component by the end of the year. But long term, features like different payment instruments, sophisticated customer retention logic, and international availability are a lot of the areas that would be harder for some of the channels independently to deliver, so we can we reduce friction to consumers who want to sample channels such as Rooster Teeth and Crunchyroll by virtue of being in one experience.”
“We’re playing in this unique space of being a curated aggregator, a virtual MVPD, and there are not a lot of examples out there. Most companies that are in that space are either focusing on linear content or going after a broad audience,” said Marmel.
On pricing, VRV offers either a la carte pricing for those who want to subscribe to individual channels at a pricing parity to subscribing separately at the individual channels, or “Combo Pack” bundle package pricing at $9.99 per month, which includes an additional “VRV Select” channel, offering premium content such as Harmonquest Season 2, animation features, and special offerings from Machinima.