Rocklin, CA-based Vidwala, a mobile video distribution platform, announced the launch of its iPad app today to be an alternative to traditional means of uploading and monetizing videos on platforms like YouTube. The company hopes to provide independent video producers with revenue sharing opportunities and flexibility around how they monetize their content, aiming to do for independent video producers what iTunes did for movies and TV shows.
CEO and Founder Kabir Mohammed spoke with BetaKit about the iPad app and his vision for empowering indie video content producers to monetize through Vidwala. “We came up with the product about a year ago, we’ve been working on it as a platform so we invested heavily in the backend,” said Mohammed in an interview. “Producers go on a web interface, they just upload their videos and they can drag and drop to make shows.”
The company isn’t catering to the average user who is uploading webcam videos on YouTube, rather they want to keep the platform free of everyday user-generated content and focus on independent shows, whether yoga classes, cooking tutorials, or web series. For the launch, Vidwala has partnered with independent production houses and content creators to build out its initial catalogue. Once uploaded, content creators can decide either to make their videos free and monetize through taking part in the company’s ad network, where they would earn 60 percent of the revenue, or they can charge for premium content through in-app purchases with the same 60/40 revenue sharing split.
“We thought independent web producers, and independent movies and shows are going to be the future, so we decided that we could help these people..who need a delivery system that’s very easy for them,” Mohammed added. “At the same time, the whole tablet space and in-app purchase being such an impulse buy…we wanted to incorporate the ease of use, which is the in-app purchase, and the trust.”
Video producers have multiple options when it comes to distributing their content. Earlier in September, Vimeo rolled out a tip-based monetization strategy for producers on its platform, with the company looking to add a paywall in 2013. Other options are Vidmind, which lets producers create a white-label Netflix-type video streaming service, and DailyMotion, which BetaKit covered when it made updates to its cloud service. If video producers want to sell access to their videos on a one-off basis, or would rather sell from their blog or website rather than using a third-party platform, they can also go completely DIY with platforms like Gumroad, which lets users set a paywall to access almost any form of digital content.
According to Mohammed, the advantage of going with Vidwala is that it has the potential to enable producers to access a distribution network, with consumers proactively looking for indie material. In addition to the number of options they have for monetizing their content, the company is also looking to add a monthly subscription option that producers could use as a third means of monetization down the road.
The company will also be looking to debut its iPhone app, an HTML5-based complementary web service, and later an Android app in 2013. The other key piece of puzzle according to Mohammed is for Vidwala to have its app available on connected TV services like Boxee and Google TV (it’s already compatible with Apple TV).
The biggest challenge for Vidwala will be getting enough people using the app to make its monetization channels viable. Advertising depends on hitting a large number of eyeballs, while only a fraction of users will make in-app purchases. iTunes and YouTube might not be the ideal platform for some indie producers, but it certainly has the distribution needed to be successful. With indie producers increasingly hoping to make it big with original video series, Vidwala will have to validate its revenue earning potential and ramp up downloads to get content producers on board and fulfill the company’s vision of being the iTunes for indie video content.