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Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV. (Peter Holst/Handout)
Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV. (Peter Holst/Handout)

Partnerships

Vancouver’s BroadbandTV extends reach on fan-made YouTube content Add to ...

Vancouver-based media company BroadbandTV on Wednesday released details of its agreement with FremantleMedia, a producer and distributor of popular shows, including American Idol and The Price Is Right. BroadbandTV will manage fan-uploaded content related to hundreds of FremantleMedia’s television properties.

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“It’s about effectively taking the brand experience to the next level and allowing the fan to share the great content you’ve created for them,” Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV, said in a press release. Her company now has more than 16,000 content creators contributing to its MultiChannel Network (MCN), which is the third-largest on YouTube with more than 1.6 billion monthly views.

Report on Small Business emailed a series of questions to Ms. Rafati about BroadbandTV and its latest deal.

What is your educational background?

I founded BroadbandTV in 2005, after studying computer science at the University of British Columbia. I also studied French at the University of Sorbonne in Paris.

How did you come up with the idea for BroadbandTV?

It was 2005, and it was really the start of the online video revolution. I saw huge potential in the space. At the time fans were uploading copies of their favourite premium content – we created the solution that put the media companies back in control of their content.

It allowed the fans to share their favourite clips with their friends and helped the media companies manage the content and earn new revenue streams. That’s still a major part of our business today: we work with existing partners such as the NBA and A&E to manage their fan-uploaded content. We also have more than 16,000 partners, many of which use (BroadbandTV technology platform) VISO NOVI.

What services does your company offer?

BroadbandTV is media and technology company that helps content owners become more successful. We have two proprietary technology solutions, VISO Catalyst, which ultimately helps content creators increase their viewership by optimizing their content, and VISO NOVI, which helps large media companies take control and manage their fan uploaded content. On top of our technology we also have a range of services that help our partners to become more successful.

How were you initially financed and what has been the key to your company’s growth for the past several years?

Early on we secured an angel round that really helped us get the company to profitability and that saw us through to our major investment last year. In June, 2013, we secured an initial funding round of $36-million, and a continuing strategic partnership with RTL Group, and it's really helped us to accelerate our growth. We continue to grow rapidly, in terms of our volume of partners, range of products and services and traffic, and we’re really looking forward to the year ahead.

Who are some of your key clients?

We work with a range of leading media companies, including the most successful sports league on YouTube: the National Basketball Association, and leading U.S. cable and satellite TV channel A&E. FremantleMedia currently achieves around 72 million unique monthly users on YouTube worldwide, making it the most watched of any TV network or movie studio in the world. We’re very excited about the partnership. We also work with more than 16,000 content creators of all sizes.

What does this deal with FremantleMedia mean for your company?

It’s a very exciting partnership for BroadbandTV as FremantleMedia has a huge online presence and we see massive potential in the deal. We can’t provide the specifics but this is a very significant agreement and this partnership is further validation of the strength of our services and technology platform.

Your company is one of the few making good money with YouTube. Do you have any advice for others who are trying to do the same?

BroadbandTV launched in 2005, and we are one of the longest-standing, largest and most experienced companies in the market. We have a lot of knowledge. New players entering the space today are facing huge competition from established competitors, we’re seeing smaller niche players coming in but they increasingly need to have a very unique value proposition. That said, I still see a lot of growth and opportunity.

We don’t expect you to bite the hand that feeds you, but what are the difficulties you have working with a Google-owned platform?

We have a great relationship with Google and YouTube and we’re a close partner. There is a lot of innovation and growth in the space and we work hard to build the best solutions possible for our partners based on the latest updates. Google is incredibly innovative and they have built the best online video solutions and tools online, by far.

You were one of seven Canadians recently named to the World Economic Forum’s special team of Young Global Leaders. What does this mean for you and your business?

It was a huge accolade and I’m truly honoured. Over the past year we’ve received some fantastic awards, and ultimately I see them all as a team effort, we were awarded them as a business.

Great accolades such as WEF also bring more responsibility and leaders increasingly need to think about the triple bottom line. I have a real focus on job creation and awards such as this will spur the company on to do more and work even harder toward achieving these goals.

What are your predictions for online video in the next five years?

One of the reasons I’m so excited about the space is because I still see an incredible amount of opportunity. Content consumption on mobile and connected devices in general will continue to rocket and it will increasingly become the first screen around the world.

Digital ad spend is growing at an incredible rate and it’s set to continue – expect to see higher quality content from individual creators, much more immersive and compelling advertising offerings from major brands and more innovative technology from leading players.

The various methods of monetization and engagement around online video is really exciting, and the technology and solutions around creating the content will continue to significantly evolve.

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