It’s no secret that in recent years, people have significantly changed how they view television content and the online television network has widened the range of the entire entertainment industry by delivering videos and television content over the internet, or over the top (OTT).
For the audiences, this new technology of online television broadcasting has provided a much wider variety of content selections to choose from, while for content publishers, the online television networks also opened massive opportunities to generate revenue.
Nowadays, starting an online television network is much more accessible and affordable than ever. While in the past it’s only possible for extremely rich people and giant enterprises, now virtually everyone can start their own TV station, even for free on platforms like YouTube or Facebook.
Here, we will discuss the required steps in starting an online television network from ideation to launch to marketing your TV channel.
Planning Your Television Network and Monetization Model
Before anything else, we have to first understand that there are three main ways of publishing online TV at the moment:
- On-demand: think Netflix or YouTube. In this type of content distribution model, the viewers can choose to watch any content at any time (and on any device), on-demand. On-demand TV has become really popular in the last decade, providing more versatility for both viewers and content publishers.
- Live-streaming: pretty self-explanatory, here we stream the content live on a certain schedule. The content may be pre-recorded but delivered live and after the live broadcast, the content may be recorded as on-demand content.
- Linear streaming: in this model, content is delivered in a linear (24/7) broadcast model, much like traditional television. Can contain both pre-recorded and live content, but to watch a certain content viewers must stick during a certain time-frame.
Which distribution model you should choose would depend ultimately on your target audience’s needs and behaviors. However, there are online TV channel makers like Viloud that allow you to use all three models in your television network. You can, for example, run your TV network as a linear channel, but offer some of your content as on-demand after airing.
Next, you should also consider how you are going to monetize your channel.
Even if you are going to run your television networks as a non-profit, running it will still cost money, so you should at least aim to cover the operational costs through monetization.
In general, there are three main methods of monetizing your online TV network:
- Subscription-based: The user pays a certain amount of subscription fee (monthly, annually, etc.) to access all your content
- Transactional: Similar to a pay-per-view model in traditional TV, the audience pays a certain fee to access individual content.
- Free and ad-supported: You stream your online TV channel for free, but you show ads to your audience. You can combine this with the subscription-based model to let viewers bypass the ads by paying a certain fee.
Plan Your Television Network
Now that you’ve decided on the technicalities of your TV network, we can start planning your television network by considering the following questions:
What is the objective of your TV network?
You can start your TV station for a plethora of reasons, from starting it as a business venture to supporting an existing business. You can also pursue specific objectives like generating more leads to your business, etc.
The more specific your objective is, the better you can define your target viewer and the better you can plan what kinds of content you should publish.
What niche will you focus on?
You can certainly broadcast all the different kinds of content and try to target a wider range of audiences. However, with today’s very competitive online TV ecosystem, it’s typically better to focus on a single niche or two, so you can target a specific target audience.
You should also consider what kinds of content you are going to offer, and how you are going to procure this content (i.e. producing it yourself, renting/buying from third-parties, etc.)
Investing In The Right Infrastructure
While the equipment and tools you’ll need may vary depending on various factors, here are the essentials you’ll most likely need:
- Video source: This can be a camera, a video streamed from third-party platforms (i.e. YouTube), a video file on your computer, etc. You should at least get one decent enough camera.
- Audio source: Your audio source can be a microphone or an audio file (i.e. background music). Nowadays there are pretty affordable microphones with a USB connection so you can directly connect them to your computer.
- Encoder: Very important especially if you are going to broadcast your content live. An encoder will convert/encode video files from your camera into a streamable file. You can choose between a hardware or software encoder.
- Computer: You’ll need a sufficient computer to process and edit your content. If you are going to stream your content live with a software encoder, then you’ll need a decent enough computer that can reliably run the encoder.
As we can see, it’s now more accessible and affordable than ever to start your own online television network in 2021. However, with this lower barrier of entry, we can also expect more competitions so planning your TV network carefully is very important in order to achieve success.
It’s best to focus on a niche or two where you can deliver more value to your target audience. By keeping your viewers happy and engaged, you can grow your community in the process and these happy viewers will also recommend your television network to their peers and friends.