There are few power females in the online video space who are running businesses and shaping the industry — Marissa Mayer and Erin McPherson from Yahoo!, Sarah Penna from Big Frame, and now Kelly Day, CEO of Blip. At the end of 2011 and months prior to Kelly Day taking the reins at Blip, Techcrunch wrote a pretty harsh recap of the platform’s history with analysis of what appeared to be a shriveling company (despite ongoing investment.)
But as the power female CEO’s of late have taught us, never underestimate a smart CEO’s ability to breathe new life into a struggling business. And under her guidance, Day has certainly brought Blip into a new dawn.
At last week’s Newfronts presentation, VideoInk grabbed a few moments of time with Day to gain better insight into the remarkable changes she’s making at Blip and her vision for the future of online video.
1. So obviously a lot of really exciting content that you guys came out with [at your Newfronts Presentation] and a few really exciting partnerships. Which one comes to the forefront of your mind and is standing out as what “will define Blip this year”?
Obviously we’re very excited about the announcement that we made with Ray William Johnson and investing in him, he’s been a fantastic talent for a long time and we’re really excited and have more to say about that soon.You know, I’d say the other ones — seriously I was the one who was like ,“We have to go get Hipsterhood!” cause I love it so much. I think the creator is absolutely brilliant. It’s like what you would see on HBO! It’s really funny.
2. So we saw that a lot of the content is coming out of Blip Studios. Is there any way you can give us like, a range of what kind of budgets you’re looking at? Is this your slate for the year? Are you going to make a mid-year announcement?
No! I mean, I don’t really look at it like seasons. I know that this is an upfront event, but no, we’re committed to funding great original programming for a long time. As we meet with great talent and hear great shows, we make decisions for funding all the time. We don’t really talk about how much we spend, and honestly it ranges a lot. We’re doing productions with Freemantle, we’re doing productions in LA, so it ranges.
3. As far as Blip as a company obviously there’s been a lot of evolution over the last 5 or 6 years, some turbulent times. What’s your vision as a business for the next 6–12 months?
I’ve been at blip about a year. The last 12 months have been a pretty radical transformation of the business. We have basically changed the process for working with promotional talent. They come to us and we do partnerships so we’ve changed our content too. We’ve changed a lot in terms of how we work with YouTube. We are doing channels on YouTube and actively working with YouTube talent, and certainly want to take advantage of the user base there. But from a conservator’s experience what it comes down to is building vertical channels for audiences that don’t live in one destination. I think consumers like curated channels, but I think [the channels] need to live where audiences are. We’re trying to create channels that live on every major form of distribution. So we work with everyone YouTube, AOL, Yahoo!, pretty much everyone who is at the NewFront this week probably at some point.
4. Do you think you’ll ever have a subscription or pay-model?
Yeah. I mean, I would love the opportunity to introduce other revenue streams. We’re looking for the right opportunity with the right content to do that. Obviously Hulu’s announcement about getting subscribers this week was great, but I think a lot of people would like to crack that nut. I think what we’re trying to do is step in that direction where step one is to go out and get the very best coming out of Hollywood in terms of digital production that’s coming off of YouTube, and I think that if we are successful getting really quality content that, eventually we will be able to find other ways to monetize it
4.1 And you think that is partially starting to happen because you’re putting more funding into your originals and made it less of an open platform? So you’re curating the quality of people that are coming in?
I think it’s a couple of things: I think the production values are going way, way up, I think that audiences have proven that they will pay for creative content, and a lot of these guys — people like Ray — have enormous audiences. Massive. So it’s just finding the opportunity to talk to those consumers and get into their wallets at the right time.
5. Any interesting companies you’re eyeing?
I really like what the guys are doing at Tubular Labs. I think those guys are so cool. I do think we’re about to enter a phase in the business where there’s going to be a whole ecosystem kind of built on top of what people like us are doing, and YouTube is doing. The analytics are going to get better, the whole tools and services are going to get built up around the online video ecosystem. We obviously watch all of those companies and keep an eye on what they’re doing.
And, finally, one prediction that you have for where we stand at the end of 2013…
Obviously my prediction would be the future of Blip, because I really do believe the investments that we’ve made in the last 12 months and the repositioning of the company and investing in all this great content. I believe that by the end of this year consumers are going to start seeing Blip as a place to go to discover really great web series.