With Studio+, Vivendi aims to seize a sizeable portion of video’s next major battleground — mobile. As time spent with traditional linear TV wanes, and incumbents (chiefly Netflix) continue to dominate long-form digital video, mobile is emerging as the next frontier. Following the trend, media companies, large and small, are pouring resources into developing a mobile video strategy.
- Studio+ is subscription-based, contrary to most efforts in mobile video which aim at ad dollars. Unlike the majority of moves in mobile video, such as Snapchat Shows and Facebook Watch content, Studio+’s business model is based purely on subscriptions — a largely untested model in the space. Although services like Netflix and HBO can be accessed on mobile, mobile-only variants of subscription video on-demand (SVOD) are non-existent, with the exception of Studio+.
- Like Netflix, Studio+ seeks to take short-form mobile SVOD mainstream, but with a significant twist. Dominique Delport, chairman of Vivendi content, explained that Studio+ targets the modern “content connoisseur” — someone who is deliberate about the shows they watch and not fully satisfied with the typical slate of digital and social video. This audience, in Studio+’s mind, would revel in high-quality, short-form episodic programming.
- The app features scripted shows that look and feel like TV programs, but are optimized for mobile. These shows follow an innovative 10×10 format: One season consists of 10 episodes, with each episode lasting a maximum of 10 minutes. A season costs $1 million to produce ($100,000 per episode), and takes a year to develop in full and launch in the app, making Studio+ shows pricier than ordinary digital video to develop, yet much more time- and cost-efficient than TV programs.
Studio+ leans on partnerships with telecoms around the world to distribute its content and grow its audience. The app launched in Brazil in 2016 via Vivo, the country’s largest mobile operator, before arriving in France via Orange and Bouygues Telecom, and Italy via Telecom Italia. Meanwhile, the US version of the app launched in early November. Delport, in conversation with BI Intelligence, said a deal has already been reached with one of the Big Four US telecoms and Studio+ is in ongoing discussions with another two. Thanks to this strategy, Studio+ has grown to more than 5 million paying subscribers globally.
The app taps into synergies across the Vivendi network, namely Canal+, Universal Music Group (UMG), and Havas. Studio+ shows are produced with the help of Canal+, a leading European film and TV producer and distributor, and UMG, the world’s largest record company. Delport also described how Studio+ can be offered to Havas’s advertising clients for branded content opportunities, citing “Farmed and Dangerous,” an original comedy series by Chipotle, as an example of the kind of work he envisages.
The emphasis on high-end scripted shows structured in a 10×10 format and delivered in a mobile-only app makes Studio+ unique. At its core, the product is a bet that consumer behavior is shifting towards watching and paying for high-quality video on mobile, and that people’s preferences for mobile video are maturing beyond short-form, bite-sized content. If Studio+ goes to plan, Delport, and Vivendi, could have the Netflix of the mobile era on their hands.