streaming media

Chris Pfaff moderates Streaming Media Connect panel – ‘Targeting, Measuring, and Scaling Connected TV Advertising’

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Chris Pfaff moderated the virtual panel ‘Targeting, Measuring, and Scaling Connected TV Advertising’ on February 20, 2024 for Streaming Media Connect, the virtual conference series produced by Streaming Media Magazine.

Discussion of CTV’s rapid growth centered around the recent Walmart acquisition of Vizio. Joining Chris were panelists Aneessa Steilen, VP, Media & Distribution Marketing, Vevo; Jack Mollins, SVP, Advertising Sales, Atmosphere.TV; Jennifer Monson, VP, Ad Sales, Fubo; Tim Ware, Senior Vice President of Programmatic Sales and Revenue, Sales, Crackle Connex, and Mark Loughney, Senior Consultant, Hub Entertainment Research.

The full panel can be viewed at:

Chris Pfaff moderates Streaming Media Connect virtual panel ‘Know Your Audience: How to Use Data to Raise ROI’

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Chris Pfaff moderated a virtual session – ‘Know Your Audience: How to Use Data to Raise ROI’ – during the Streaming Media Connect event, on November 15, 2023, featuring Daniel Trotta, from Warner Bros. Discovery; Paul Erickson, from Erickson Insights; Bethany Atchison, from Vevo, and Alan Wolk, from TVREV.

You can watch the entire session at:

See two posts from below, by Tyler Nesler – ‘Metadata and the Battle for Streaming ROI’ on December 18, 2023 and ‘How AI Helps Solve Streaming Content Monetization’ on December 11, 2023 – with video excerpts.


Metadata and the Battle for Streaming ROI

By Tyler Nesler

December 18, 2023

Whether your game is FAST, AVOD, SVOD, hybrid, or premium or longtail content, leveraging metadata intelligently is a critical component of monetizing your offerings. Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), discusses this topic with Paul Erickson, Founder and Principal, Erickson Strategy & Insights, Bethany Atchison, VP, Distribution Partner Management, Vevo, Daniel Trotta, Product Manager, Content Engagement & Monetization, Warner Bros Discovery, and Alan Wolk, Co-Founder/Lead Analyst, TVREV in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.

Pfaff notes that a major topic right now in the streaming industry is the importance of metadata for receiving the best possible ROI. “This is a big, big topic right now as streamers, large and small are trying to find revenue,” he says. “And how are they going to do that?” He asks Erickson about his thoughts on the situation.

“I think metadata is absolutely key, in my opinion, to multiple elements that either directly or indirectly tie to ROI,” Erickson says. “And so when we think about sustaining engagement, which is fundamental to retention and monetization, it’s directly connected to personalization and search and recommendation. If we think about how efficiently you can target and address specific audiences with your advertising, that specificity is aided tremendously by the metadata that helps advertisers understand the nuances of that audience they’re trying to hit. There’s a lot of value [that can be] reaped by those parties who can effectively enhance and enrich metadata, typically using AI…and particularly when it comes to equalizing the level of metadata quality and richness in diverse libraries that may be consistent or that may consist of new and legacy content perhaps from different sources such as what you might have in a FAST channel.”

Erickson also points out that metadata can help to better target the “specific nuances of portions of your content portfolio that are not performing well with your audience and give you some insight into why, depending on the richness and quality of that metadata. And thus, it can help you optimize your existing content portfolio and inform your future content acquisition strategy.”

Pfaff says, “Basically, you’re saying that metadata is really the linchpin. It’s the DNA of everything.”

Erickson says good metadata is table stakes, but “rich metadata is potentially a force multiplier for overall service ROI if you leverage it correctly.”

Pfaff says to Atchison, “I think last year you were really responsible for creating the FAST Channel strategy for Vevo. Talk a little bit about that and how you’re using data to amplify and pump up that ROI.”

“So for anyone who doesn’t know,” Atchinson says, “Vevo is the world’s leading music video network. We have over 800,000 music videos in our catalog across a variety of decades across genres. So organizing our data is really important to keep track of all of that content.” She emphasizes that clean metadata is essential in order to efficiently organize and optimize information. “We have a programming team that uses their expertise to program each of our individual fast channels, but they need to leverage AI and data to really comb through all of that and surface everything to them because there’s just so much content to go through. So for us, it’s really tantamount to the success of our channels.”

Pfaff says to Trotta, “Let’s talk about channels with Warner Brothers Discovery. Talk about how you’re sifting through the metadata sands to enhance all things revenue.”

Trotta focuses on the “pause ad” feature available on many platforms as a good use case of metadata for exceptional ROI. “Say you’re watching something like Breaking Bad and you pause on one of those moments in Breaking Bad where maybe you don’t want somebody walking into the room. You also don’t want an advertiser’s ad to pop up over that. I know streaming services are working towards this metadata that runs through the episode to show you when areas are safe and when they are not. It allows you to take this ad format and distribute it across more of your programming hours than you otherwise would have. So that’s ROI. That’s money in your pocket right there. And it’s a better viewing experience than dropping this ad where it shouldn’t be.”

Pfaff asks Wolk, “What recently stands out to you in terms of the state of metadata where streamers are battling for engagement and retention?”

Wolk says that a major current issue for utilizing good metadata is the fact that when older popular shows were first digitized, no one really thought about how to tag content consistently. “Like Seinfeld ‘comedy show,’ Seinfeld, ‘funny show.’ And sometimes it’d be in all caps, sometimes it’d be in lowercase,” he says. “It’s really hard to kind of match it up. And so there’s been a lot of work being done. There are companies like IRIS.TV, which have sort of created a content tag that tries to standardize it. But it’s a huge problem with advertising because a lot of times they don’t really know what’s going on. The good news is everybody’s aware of it and is moving to fix it, but it’s way behind what’s available on digital.”


How AI Helps Solve Streaming Content Monetization

By Tyler Nesler

December 11, 2023

Much discussion of AI and streaming relates to streamlining and automating workflows, but how content companies can leverage it to personalize their content and target ads more efficiently, among other monetization strategies, is another question the industry is examining closely.


Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), dives into the AI streaming monetization question with Bethany Atchison, VP, Distribution Partner Management, Vevo, Daniel Trotta, Product Manager, Content Engagement & Monetization, Warner Bros. Discovery, Alan Wolk, Co-Founder/Lead Analyst, TVREV, and Paul Erickson, Founder and Principal, Erickson Strategy & Insights in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023.

“I’m just curious from all of your perspectives where you see AI working,” Pfaff says. He asks Atchison to give her thoughts on the situation.

“We generally use AI for combing through all of the mountains of data we have across our different channels and platforms,” Atchinson says. “We definitely believe in the importance of the human element in creating our programs on our channels. So we’re really not leveraging that to create the content, but we are using it to make sure that everything is being surfaced, and that also enables us to surface new artists that might not be top of mind for everyone watching, but because the data is organized so cleanly, we’re able to find rising artists who are new in hip hop and put them on our Vevo hip hop channel and give them a platform and an opportunity to be seen in a CTV environment.”

Pfaff says to Trotta, “I’m sure you’ve got some homegrown AI that you use in addition to other major vendors. Talk about some of your war stories in trying to implement AI to ‘know thy audience’ better.”

“A lot of what you see on a streaming homepage is personalized to you and your past viewing behavior and what similar viewers to you have viewed in the past,” Trotta says. “The human element there that is still really vital is pointing the algorithm in the correct direction. So that’s setting the key input and key output metrics and determining [if you] are going to optimize for the most active viewers you can get on your service in a given day? Are you going to optimize for the most viewing hours you can get on your service in a given day? Are you going to optimize for the frequency with which users come back in a month? These are all [elements] that get sped through the pipeline that ultimately becomes what the user sees. But that’s the fundamental question to kick everything off each time.”

Pfaff says, “I think that, certainly, this will get better and better, but you’ve got to do that for millions of viewers and devices as well.” He next asks Wolk how he and TVREV view AI and how it aids service providers.

“I think AI is going to be a huge game changer,” Wolk says. “We’re already seeing it now…the thing that we always talk about is how nobody wants to run their funny commercial during the funeral scene of a show, and it’s been very hard to identify that…and now they’re able to do that to understand the emotions and even other things, like if I’m Cadillac and Matthew McConaughey is in a scene, I want to run my ad there too, so it creates a nice synergy. And then even understanding what sorts of shows viewers like and being able to personalize their feeds. It’s just such an exciting time, and the ability to do this is just going to be incredible.”

Pfaff asks Erickson, “I’m just curious, in terms of things like ad frequency and ad fatigue…how that needs to be solved and what you’re seeing in terms of solutions.”

“Well, certainly I think AI will help in that, but my thoughts on ad overload and poor targeting…they’re always going to be a net negative for engaging or retention, which obviously impacts your ROI over time,” Erickson says. “My thought on this [is that] content is that the lifeblood of any video operation, whether that’s traditional broadcast, the streaming services, Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) channels…it can make or break the economics of your service. The right content brings people in, keeps them there, and brings them back. But running out of content leads to them to churning. Spending too much on that content, no matter how good and relevant will put you upside down ROI-wise. So today, I think we’re finally seeing serious judicious review of content spending when it comes to acquisitions and commissions to ensure that overall content budgets are being used efficiently and profitably.”

He notes that ad frequency and poor demographic data are particular issues for FAST. “Hopefully, it’s going to be improved, and it is improving.” He says that ultimately, it remains very important “To make sure that you are spending your budget judiciously on the right kinds of content, whether that’s an original commission or licensing it…I think that will still be fundamental to your service’s success.”


Chris Pfaff moderates Streaming Media Connect virtual panel – ‘FAST Times: Keeping Up with the FAST Ecosystem’

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Chris Pfaff moderated an all-star panel on the FAST industry sector – ‘FAST Times: Keeping Up with the FAST Ecosystem’ – during the virtual Streaming Media Connect conference, on August 24, 2023, with Christina Chung, from Estrella Media; Damian Pelliccione, from Revry; Marisa Elizondo, from Fubo, and Jeff Flanagan, from HARTBEAT.

You can watch the entire session at:


Read Steve Nathans-Kelly’s piece on the session in Streaming Media, dated November 7, 2023 and Tyler Nesler’s piece from September 15, 2023 below:


The State of FAST: Around the Horn with Fubo, Estrella Media, and HARTBEAT


With all the talk of FAST 2.0 and the explosion of FAST channels to the point of approaching market saturation, is FAST’s self-reinvention a foregone conclusion, or even advisable at this juncture? What are the new and emerging FAST growth strategies that are driving growth today, as opposed to a year or two ago? And how have the strikes in Hollywood that consumed at least 2 quarters of the year impacted channel and content development? At Streaming Media Connect 2023Chris Pfaff of Chris Pfaff Tech Media posed these questions to three executives from key players in the FAST ecosystem: HARTBEAT, Fubo, and Estrella Media.

For Kevin Hart-founded entertainment network HARTBEAT (formerly known as Laugh Out Loud), the emerging FAST strategy has been surprisingly YouTube-focused. “We’re seeing more growth in viewership minutes and numbers, but with the caveat that where we’re seeing that growth is on the big ones–Tubi, Pluto, Samsung, Roku,” says Jeff Clanagan, President and Chief Distribution Officer at HARTBEAT. “We just launched a FAST channel on our YouTube page, which is doing extremely well. We’ve only been up about four months now. The advantage that we had in doing that is we already had a YouTube page that had five million subscribers on it. So what we were able to do–which I think only a couple of people have done– is launch our FAST stream on our YouTube page versus a separate FAST stream in another environment in YouTube. So we are able to tap into that audience that we’ve already curated.”

For sports-centric live TV streaming network Fubo, the strategy of leaning heavily into FAST with new channel launches has continued apace despite the writers and actors strikes that have largely halted the production or infusion of new content. “Fubo is a live streaming platform,” says Fubo VP, Content Strategy & Acquisition Marisa Elizondo. “We’re sports-focused. We’ve leaned in very heavily over the past year into the FAST space thinking, ‘There is probably a happy medium between the FAST world and the traditional linear networks. So over the past year, we were taking a slow and steady approach to launching FAST channels, and we actually leaned in quite heavily and launched about 100 FAST channels. And what’s unique about us is that we’ve mixed them in between all of the packaging. So if you pulled up our channel lineup, you would see that all of the FAST channels are kind of mixed in. And it’s been great. Despite the strikes, we have still had a ton of inbound requests of new networks that are trying to get launched, trying to get eyeballs. So I’m rather busy in taking all of those, but I don’t think the strikes have deterred any independent nets or new nets from trying to get additional distribution.”

“FAST has grown significantly,” said Christina Chung, VP Business Operations at Spanish-language multi-platform media company Estrella Media. “In the last three years, our business at Estrella has really grown from FAST distribution at $0 to a multi-million-dollar business. We work with a number of different partners such as Fubo where we have our four channels: Estrella TV, Estrella News, Estrella Games, and Cine Estrella, which is our movie channel. And we’ve seen astronomical growth because I think viewers in the world are looking for places where they can find content outside of just buying a cable subscription or a broadcast subscription. So it is an opportunity to have a free ad-supported television experience that is very similar to the traditional linear business. And Estrella has put all of our marketing dollars into FAST and do have our own app, but FAST is our bread and butter at this point. It’s grown into this behemoth where we work very closely with all of our different distribution partners and we work on different content strategies with each of them.”




How Premium Brands Are Leveraging FAST

by Tyler Nesler, Streaming Media

September 15, 2023


As with any other entertainment streaming genre, the engine driving FAST is the monetization of content, and as with large-scale live events in particular, FAST thrives on pairing brands with properties and serving those brands effectively. In this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2023, Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, Producers Guild of America (PGA), VR AR Association (VRARA), talks with Damian Pelliccione, CEO / Co-Founder, Revry, how Revry works with brands and the sort of brand identification with key Revry programming that enables the industry’s leading LGBTQ+ programming destination to thrive and grow.

“There’s more innovation happening every day in FAST,” Pfaff says. “Damian, what’s interesting is a lot of people think, ‘I’ve heard of these guys Revry and what they’re doing. They’ve got these brands, they’re FAST. This isn’t subscription, this isn’t even AVOD. How do you do that? Are [people] coming to you saying, ‘I see something really both subversive and also very clever in that strategy of pulling people in who have disposable income, brands who want to attach themselves because there’s an audience, not because they just like throwing cash around. Do you find other people who are looking to pay you flattery by imitation, or where is that going?”

“I think the biggest thing we did is we built distribution and we built audience,” Pelliccione says. “We’re over 5 million monthly active viewers across all of our apps and channels, with almost 80% of that coming exclusively from our FAST channel partners. And we’ve leveraged the opportunity to sell that inventory at really high CPMs. We’re selling at the height, during Pride season, at 50, 60 CPMs, the entry point being 35, because we’re a very affluent market. We have the [highest] amount of scale of video inventory in CTV addressing this market, and we’ve not been challenged. We’re really the thought leader in this space.”

Pelliccione emphasizes that the core of FAST effectiveness is having great and original content. “Obviously, that takes the cake, where our original programming is completely underwritten by brands, de-risking all of the opportunity, us owning all of that IP,” they say. “We did over 1.5 million views in two weeks for a Voguecompetition show that was completely underwritten by Henkel’s got2b brand, the hair gel and dye, which I’m wearing right now, and Nike, which I’m also wearing right now. I obviously like to support all the brands that support us. And a shout out to John Lear, Mark [Bracero], and Linda [Morel] at Triple Threat Productions. We’re seeing multi-Emmy award-winning producers. Mark has five Emmys for Queer Eye. He’s nominated currently. Linda, having won for Key & Peele, is currently nominated for A Black Lady Sketch Show. Producers from traditional media are trying to get into the FAST and the AVOD market and work with networks like Revry because they see us scaling our business, scaling our original content opportunity, working with brands, and creating. We only create unscripted content from an original standpoint, and seeing [opportunities] like Drag Latina, which Triple Threat is producing for us right now. We did a million live impressions when we announced that show [and] when we actually premiered season one last fall, and they’re producing season two right now as we speak in Los Angeles.”