L-R Ian Blaine, CSO, Len Jordan, Madrona, Marty Roberts, CEO
A lot has changed in the media world since Bruce Springsteen delivered his eponymous lament “57 Channels and Nothing On” in 1984. First, there are more than 57 ‘channels’ on cable and satellite TV. Neilsen data from a few years ago suggested that that the average home had access to 189 channels and watched only 17. Perhaps more importantly, the US subscription cable/satellite business peaked at 100M users in late 2015 and although still a big business at just under $100B for 2016 the rise of ‘cord cutters’ or ‘cord nevers’ is creating a pre-Cambrian explosion of new over-the-top (OTT) IP video experiences. There are now hundreds of conventional cable channels, thousands of live and on-demand OTT programs, (they aren’t really channels) and there is plenty of award-winning programming ‘on’, but other than that Mr. Springsteen was right. J
Today, we are excited to lead the $2M series seed round of Wicket Labs, a company directly attacking the value equation for media companies in this new blended world of OTT and traditional channels. Wicket is building a SAAS platform for measuring and analyzing video consumption, giving media companies insight into how the many channels available to them are performing and which content is driving viewers. The market opportunity is substantial- combined video revenues from subscription television, OTT services and advertising is projected to exceed $193B in the US this year. The challenge for content creators, marketers and distributors is understanding the rapid and dramatic shifts in consumption patterns as users watch a growing selection of different programs on new networks, different devices and a complex array of pay and ad-supported services.
Wicket’s team is led by cofounders Marty Roberts and Ian Blaine from thePlatform (acquired by Comcast in 2006). Marty and I worked together years ago at RealNetworks and it’s a privilege to be working together again- the quantity and color of our hair has changed but I’ve always felt hair is generally overrated. Marty and Ian have deep relationships with TV studios, OTT services and distribution networks- they spent years understanding the challenges in the market and have developed a breakthrough product plan that will provide a compelling level of insights for the industry.
Wickets’ first product will help marketers understand consumption and retention patterns. What are the attributes and characteristics of my customers? What programs are my customers watching and how often? Live or time-shifted? What other networks and programs are they watching? How did I acquire the customer and what trial programs are most successful? What patterns can be discerned from lost customers that would help me drive improved retention?
Over time Wicket will be able to help marketers, content creators and distributors understand the best approaches to producing and delivering the best customer experiences. This will become even more important as the market continues to evolve. There are now 11 different OTT services in the US generating more than $8B in 2015 and projected to grow to $23B by 2021 (Digital TV Research) More than 1/3 of US homes now have an OTT TV device (eg Roku) and as consumption on laptops and tablets accelerates there is a lot of opportunity for innovation in digital content creation, packaging, promotion and distribution.
sThe changing dynamic in video content may best be illustrated by this year’s Emmy awards where three of the top ten nominated networks (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) were not even creating original content just five years ago. Several of the other top ten networks (CBS, HBO, Disney/ABC) have announced or launched their own DTC (direct to consumer) OTT services and dozens more have announced plans or already launched. Wicket hopes to be at the center of this market as a valued partner and we are excited to be part of their team.