When Vevo recently struck a deal with Hulu, it had particular significance for Jesse Judelman, Vevo's Senior Vice President of Sales for the Americas. He's had a front-row seat to both companies' evolution. Before joining Vevo seven years ago, he was a Hulu executive.
As a result of the new alliance, six of Vevo's free, ad-supported TV (FAST) music channels have joined Hulu Live+. The streaming platform offers live linear channels and video-on-demand (VOD) content to 4.4 million subscribers. That's a nice boost to Vevo's reach and exposure.
In Judelman's view, streaming platforms and content providers have evolved to the point where they're delivering the choices consumers want. In speaking of Vevo and Hulu, he said: "Both of our companies have been at the forefront of this premium digital video revolution. Now we're fulfilling the promise of the technology and the content that is compelling enough to get us into the living room. It's all coming full circle."
Until now, Hulu and Vevo have had parallel lives with a key similarity: both were on the vanguard at the time they debuted. When Hulu launched in 2007, it helped usher in a new way for users to consume digital video on computers and smart TVs. Similarly, Vevo's 2009 debut on YouTube repositioned music videos from promotional material into desirable content that could be monetized with advertising.
A lot has changed since then for both companies. Vevo moved into the FAST lane, and it has steadily added linear channels to the lineups of more than 30 distribution partners. It reaches 65 million CTV viewers in the U.S. each month, including 11 million Black American viewers and 13 million Hispanic viewers.
The six Vevo channels that just joined the Hulu Live+ lineup are being offered alongside channels such as FX, HGTV and Telemundo. Some of Vevo's most popular programs have come Hulu's way: Vevo Holiday, Vevo Hip-Hop, Vevo '80s, Vevo '90s, Vevo Countryand Vevo Pop.
"For Vevo, this partnership signifies another point of arrival," Judelman said of Vevo's rise to the top in the FAST space. "Working with Hulu and Disney will open new avenues for us, and we will gain valuable institutional knowledge." (Disney and NBC Universal's parent, Comcast, own Hulu. And Vevo is co-owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group.)
Consumers are hungry for more FAST channels, Judelman said. And connected TV (CTV) has moved from a niche product to a major agent of change. "CTV always had the promise for programmers and distributors to deliver content in a more relevant way and then serve up more compelling advertising," he explained. "That's a shift from how TV used to be."
Judelman said he has dreamed of partnering with his former employer, but Vevo needed to develop more to capture Hulu's attention. That became a reality as Vevo focused on growing its FAST lineup and grew to its current well-established level.
"We're at a point where it's a no-brainer," he said. "We're pieces of that puzzle that everyone needs. We are the custodians of professionally produced music content and the classic music-video format."
Indeed, Vevo's secret sauce is its content. The company's library contains more than 700,000 pieces of original content, including music videos, concerts and interviews. Vevo artists appeal to nearly every imaginable demographic, including Gen-Z and multicultural viewers, Judelman noted.
"Our content is so broad-based and so immersed in all cultures within this country, and certainly globally, that it behooves any distribution platform to have us front and center," he said.
One of Vevo's key selling points is its ability to customize FAST channels for its distribution partners and their audiences. For instance, Hulu Live+ customers may be more interested in particular artists or genres than Roku or Samsung users. Vevo works with its partners to design channels that are tailor-made to serve a given platform's specific viewer interests. In order to do so, it taps into first- and third-party data. The result is that no two channels are alike, Judelman noted.
On Hulu, he expects Vevo Holiday will be a huge hit given the seasonal timing of the partnership, as well as Vevo '80s and '90s. In the future, he hopes to add additional channels to the platform's lineup. "Once we've showcased the power of how we can move the needle with the audience that we can accrue, I think we'll talk about what happens next," he said.
He expects the Hulu deal will help Vevo secure new distribution deals and sway current partners to expand their Vevo channel lineups. "The endgame is that our content should be everywhere that distributes entertainment," Judelman concluded.
Photo courtesy of Vevo.
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