ScreenHits TV allows consumers, who have been longing for an aggregator to organise all their streaming services in one app, get full use of their streaming apps by having a quick glimpse at what is recommended and what is trending across all their streaming platforms, says Rose Adkins Hulse, Founder and CEO Of ScreenHits TV, in a chat with Pickle
Tell us about ScreenHits TV
ScreenHits TV provides a unique platform for consumers to organise and get the most out of their streaming subscriptions in one place. It provides a unique interface to discover content across all the leading premium streamers, without having to switch between apps to do so.
How important is TV in a streaming world?
TV has many definitions. Consuming content exclusively via satellite providers is no longer necessary. The consumer does not have to acquire expensive hardware or have a satellite dish on their roof to enjoy high quality content. The studios are dictating the method of delivery in this new digital age and the consumers are adapting quite well to it. I do believe there will always be a need for a TV screen to watch TV, but the means in how the content gets on the TV is in the process of transition and TV as we know it will be redefined in this new direct to consumer, digital world.
Who are the major streamers using ScreenHits TV services?
Services vary from region to region, but in the territories we are launched in, consumers are able to integrate the leading premium streamers such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Starz, Lionsgate, BBC iPlayer, Peacock, HBO Max, and Paramount +, to name a few.
Which devices does ScreenHits TV work with?
ScreenHits iOS tablet app and soon to be mobile app has compatibility with Android TVs with Chromecast and Fire TV. Shortly we will be launching a native app on Vizio, LG, and Metz.
How does ScreenHits TV benefit the consumer and help stream content in one place?
The most frustrating thing for the customer when trying to find something to watch is to have to switch in between streaming apps to do a search and discovery. This inhibits consumers from wanting to have multiple apps and removing apps that they feel are not used often, increasing unnecessary churn for streaming services. ScreenHits TV ensures that consumers get full use of their streaming apps, allowing them to have a quick glimpse at what is recommended and what is trending across all their streaming platforms.
What does research say?
Our research, along with research from other leading data companies such as SmithGeiger Group and Nielsen shows that consumers want an aggregator that helps to organise all their streaming services in one and doesn’t require hardware. Consumers are also looking for bundles, so they can easily transition from their Pay TV subscription to app TV. It is important for consumers to understand the true value in switching to app TV and their cost savings.
What is important for a consumer—content or platform?
Content is always important and will remain so. The issue is that with so much fragmentation and rights returning to the studios for their direct to consumer streaming platforms, it can become quite a challenge to keep track of where everything is, so an aggregator that places the consumer first and lets them quickly find their favourite shows or discover the next big show to watch, will become extremely important.
Streaming market is on the rise globally. It is amazing that the US alone has over 300 streaming platforms.It is also considered a $100 billion market with one billion subscribers. Where do we go from here now?
Streaming market is expected to grow even bigger. As the industry starts to consolidate and the winning streaming services solidify their positioning and content roadmap, consumers will start to transition. There are still a large number of consumers that rely on Pay TV for accessing their media. However, streamers are the future and over the next 3-5 years, we will see a massive migration from Pay TV to app TV. These are exciting times.
How important is curation of content?
There are many views on this. Some people want to have a universal search and access to every single piece of content that is available in the world. I personally do not believe in this.
We must learn from the successes and failures of the past and one valuable lesson that we should not forget is that consumers need curation. As consumers have less time at their disposal, ScreenHits TV strives to make their life easier by curating the best of the best.
So, when it comes to our users discovering content they are only searching from the best content in the market. There are other services,too, but they do not curate or limit the number of streamers they have on their platform. However, if we were to do this, it would be a direct contradiction to our name.
How did the pandemic impact growth of aggregators like ScreenHits?
During the pandemic more and more streaming services were launched, and the frustrations of having multiple apps on different devices with multiple interfaces proved to be very frustrating to the consumer. Addition of these new services accelerated our growth in the market exponentially. We were developing ScreenHits TV prior to the pandemic, but we have had to speed up our initiatives to ensure that we were growing with the industry and providing an immediate solution to cord-cutters.
ScreenHits has appointed Moviegoers Entertainment to oversee Indian content?
Yes, this has been a wonderful decision. They have solidified our Indian growth plans and have secured premium Indian content partners for ScreenHits TV globally. They will continue to oversee the rollout of ScreenHits TV India and manage our partnerships with our key Indian players.
When is the India launch expected?
We will be announcing this exciting news in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
What are the challenges you foresee in the times to come?
Our biggest challenge is to keep up with the opportunities and manage our growth. There are a number of wonderful opportunities right now and we have to focus on our territory rollouts, new product features and always creating the best product for our streaming partners to ensure their content always remains top of mind with consumers at the point of discovery.
Tell us about your competition like Struum.
Struum is not a competitor of ours. They are not aggregating streaming services. They host content on their platform, similar to platforms like IndieFlix, Mubi, Curiosity Stream, History Hits and act more like a TVOD platform like Rakuten and Chili. Their business model is also very different from ours. They offer credits (like a discounted TVOD model) for their users to rent library content from the Indie streamers. They also own the customer relationship and for some platforms that may not be an issue, but as we work with the leading streamers in the world, that does not benefit them and never will. ScreenHits TV does not want to own the customer like Struum does. The customer will always belong to our streaming partners and our goal is to always drive traffic back to our partners’ site while creating a seamless UX for our customers to discover content across all their subscribed platforms.
Despite the pandemic hitting the entertainment industry hard, Pranab Kapadia, Director at Moviegoers Entertainment Limited & Co-Producer at Hope Productions is hopeful of its revival adding that F9, RRR, Bell Bottom, Suryavanshi are the films that will be enjoyed only on the big screen.
What made you venture into Moviegoers Entertainment? Especially after spending over a decade in Eros Entertainment?
It’s been an amazing, fruitful and immensely enriching 13 years for me at Eros. Over the years, Eros became home to me and my colleagues, my family. I started out with business head responsibilities for Europe & Africa but gradually assumed a wider role of President Distribution – International thanks to the trust and faith our then CEO Jyoti Deshpande reposed in me. Through the years, I also had the opportunity of working closely with our Chairman Kishore Lulla who is a pioneer and visionary of the India film industry. He, along with his brother, MD Sunil Lulla guided and empowered me. This gave me the confidence to deliver my best. I always wanted to set up something of my own. When Eros decided to focus on their OTT platform Eros Now, I thought it to be an opportune time for me to explore theatrical and other distribution opportunities through my company Moviegoers Entertainment Limited.
How has been this journey (especially during pandemic times)? There has been a lot of activity in Moviegoers Entertainment in recent times…
Life has changed for everybody since the pandemic, especially for all businesses in Hospitality and Entertainment sector. With cinemas closed and shootings stopped, there was no activity in theatrical distribution. But content was being consumed in a big way on OTT platforms. With the support of industry well-wishers, colleagues and friends, we secured exclusive representation rights to integrate Indian content partners on Super Aggregator Platform Screenhits – a game changing Media Tech company founded by the supremely talented Rose Hulse. ScreenHits TV is committed to provide consumers with a single sign-in and easy-to-use interface that combines their pre-existing streaming subscription services, videos and live channels thereby minimizing streaming fatigue by helping viewers discover and seamlessly watch content across leading streaming providers. We are also in the process of taking Screenhits into India and will soon be announcing a tie-up with leading industry media veterans as our joint venture partners.
You have seen the cinema much closer than many others… From the traditional theatrical distribution to streaming.
Yes. In 2004 with Mujhse Shaadi Karoge, I started my journey in overseas film distribution, while at Zee. I Subsequently moved to Adlabs in 2006 and Eros in 2008. In a span of 15+ years, I have overseen release of 170 films theatrically. Vivaah (2006 Rajshree Productions film starring Shahid Kapoor) was the first film to premiere day & date Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) same time as theatrical while I was at Adlabs. It was revolutionary and way ahead of its time. Today we hear of Trolls 2 doing the same and breaking records.
Indian films, mainstream, commercial movies have a global footprint. But it has not rocked in box office or as a ‘Bollywood’ genre. Do you think India still is a force to reckon with?
In early 2000s, if you walked into DVD stores like HMV or Virgin Records, you would find DVDs of Bollywood films in the ‘World Cinema’ section along with Korean, French, German language films. Over the last 20 years or so, ‘Bollywood’ has become mainstream everywhere. Go to any market, speak to any buyer, sample any terrestrial TV platform in any country, from LATAM to Russia, Bollywood has made its mark. Our films are being dubbed and subtitled in several languages because our content resonates with a global audience.
How much time will we take to come back to normal days for cinema (to enjoy in theatres)? How do you react to the success of F9: The Fast Saga in box office and does this feel good factor continue in the coming months?
To my mind, there was never any doubt about the survival of cinema. Any webinar with experts from media industry always said this. The argument was much the same when VCRs and DVD players came into every home, some critics were quick to write off cinemas. But upto March 2020, more than 50 per cent of a film’s revenue was derived from worldwide box office ticket sales. Yes, the pandemic has brought the shutters down for cinemas but it is temporary. In January 2021, Tamil film Master (starring Vijay) released and smashed records grossing over US$6mn in overseas. That infused the much needed confidence in producers that audiences eventually want to experience the right film on the big screen. F9, RRR, Bell Bottom, Suryavanshi etc are films that will be enjoyed only on the big screen.
You continue to distribute films in theatres… Is your confidence in theatrical revenue intact?
Yes. For the right type of film, both customer experience and revenue that one can derive from cinemas will be unmatched by other platforms.
What stays and what will change in the movie industry?
With audiences now getting exposed to different types of content, readily available on their fingertips on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, the demand for good quality content is ever increasing and this means our creative talent will have to work very hard to keep our viewers engaged. Different scripts and subjects which were once considered taboo or non-mainstream are finding financial backers and leading actors to play characters. That is a big change.
Our storytelling and narratives have changed. The whole world is our audience now.
One of your commitments in Moviegoers Entertainment is to become a co-producer with R Balki and Gauri Shinde’s Hope Productions. What are the projects being worked on and anything to share? And why Balki-Gauri Shinde?
I am honoured and delighted to collaborate with India’s finest, most talented, creative powerhouse duo of Gauri Shinde & R Balki. Their unique style of storytelling, creating entertaining content and commercial success out of subjects that are considered taboo, is remarkable. After successfully producing award winning feature films and commercials, collecting several accolades at prestigious film festivals around the world, their production company Hope Productions is now at the cusp of growth and I am excited to lead this as a co-producer. We are working on four films. Two bound scripts are ready. We will be finalising the cast for them and making an official announcement soon. In coming months, we will be making further announcements in terms of projects and our plans going forward.
One of the most interesting services rendered by Moviegoers is on monetisation of film content beyond streaming. What are the avenues open to a producer for new revenue opportunities?
There is a huge area of opportunity for monetising ‘non-theatrical’ rights of catalogue content owned by studios or individual producers. This does not impair deals already done with regard to TV, Digital, Music or Theatrical Rights. (Potential) Outlets include Hospitals, Hotels, Universities, Shopping-Malls, Religious Places etc. Revenues can be trickling but it all adds up. We are currently representing a catalogue of over 1000 films and adding more titles.
Finally, London is your home. How is it to work out of the UK after it has left European Union?
(It) Absolutely made no difference to our business. But at a macro level, there has been a shortage of trained staff for certain jobs because they have returned home either due to Brexit or Covid. Nonetheless, UK always offers great opportunities to the working-class communities and I have no doubt life will return to normal very soon.