Sean Luxton 1_M1
By Chris Avena
Outdoor television certainly has
evolved over the years. I fondly remember as a youngster watching Mutual of
Omaha’s Wild Kingdom that aired on NBC. I would sit intently, hanging on every
word as Marlin Perkins would describe these exotic species while poor Jim
Fowler wrestled a python somewhere down stream for our entertainment. Fast
forward twenty plus years as Steve Irwin emerged onto the outdoor scene,
achieving international fame as The Crocodile Hunter that aired on the
Animal Planet network. What was considered new and exciting outdoor television
at the time, I still consider the infancy stage of outdoor television. Hit the
fast forward button once again to the year 2010 as we witness the birth of the
Outdoor Channel. The Outdoor Channel burst into every hunter’s living room and
soon, everyone wanted to be the next television hunting star. With the growth
and evolution of outdoor television, My Outdoor TV(MOTV) soon emerged.
Chris: Sean, the outdoor industry has
changed so much in the past 20-plus years where TV was the end-all and everyone
wanted to be a TV hunting star. Then it
started to evolve to streaming video on demand and that's where My Outdoor TV
(MOTV) has taken a strong foothold. You're actually the leaders of the industry
in that space right now.
Sean: Yes, I would say that is where we started
with on-demand content. We have 17,000
episodes of on-demand content. But as we were discussing earlier, the market
has changed dramatically in the last two and three years. In addition to all
the on-demand content, we have three live TV scheduled channels. What we know
now is when people get home from work, they order dinner, tuck the kids in bed etc,
sometimes you don't want to search for a show or topic. They just want to
find. Now people can go to MOTV and if
they want to search, they can do that. If they want to just watch something,
they press one button and they watch a hunting show stream which is our
scheduled live channel. So that's what we need to do to evolve. We do have the
on-demand content, we have the scheduled channels, we have a new content
category called “Just Shot.”
So that is content that is on our platform within two weeks of being filmed
in the field. Again, if you want to go
back to time, we've got content if you want it. What is happening right now in
the whitetail season, we've got just shot content for you.
Chris: That's really huge data base.
Sean: It's a massive amount of content
and a massive amount of data that helps people find what they want from that
Chris: How do you store all of that
Sean: A whole bunch of servers. The story
in a sense is the easy part. The hard
part is when somebody comes to the platform, they want to find Iowa Whitetail,
we have to make sure that our metadata is right and all the episodes are there
so the person can type in Iowa Whitetail, find all the episodes and watch them
when they want. So, our hope is that that whole technical back end is visible. You
come to the site and hopefully you can find what you want right there. If not,
we hope that we have done some work so you can find that content really easily.
Chris: Is the content basically everything
that's on the Outdoor Channel that you get on MOTV on demand what you want,
when you want it, you miss an episode and you can just follow up?
Sean: It is not all of it, but it's
almost all of it. All the biggest stars and
producers of content are there. Again,
what we find is people will find a show or what they love and then they will
binge-watch and go all the way down. We have 12 or 13 seasons of content for
Chris: Long time.
Sean: Yeah. And people really like going
back and seeing those producers way back when and then seeing them how they’re
Chris: How does MOTV differ from YouTube
Sean: I think it is different in the
amount of content. We have much more content than everyone says. We have much
more of the established, very popular content, most of it explicitly. And you
can watch MOTV on a big-screen TV, an iPhone, Samsung Smart TV, Vizio TV. If
you want to hunt and peck for your content, you're going to be able to do that
on YouTube. If you want to sit back on your couch and watch your big-screen TV
and find whatever you want, and go from one show to another show, a live
stream, to on-demand, to just shot. That's what we mean.
Chris: But I can also pull it up on my
computer or cellphone?
Sean: It's available everywhere. Big
screen, small screen. It's available everywhere.
Chris: What is the sweet spot as far as
Sean: As far as hunting categories, one
would think that the category is just one homogenous group, it's not,
right? We have many different audiences
and that's where the big challenge is, as some of these come in and they are
bow hunters and they are not interested in anything else. We are constantly
playing with having present content. If you want a water fowl content, we want
to make it easy. Predator hunting? I’d
say it’s not like other channels because all those audiences are different.
Chris: How much have you grown over the
past few years?
Sean: A huge amount. I'd say we did a lot
more learning than growing initially. It
was a brand- new space, we were brand new in the space. We know a lot more now.
There is still a lot that we do not know. Platforms are growing hugely. We just
launched on YouTube TV. We launched on Amazon Prime Channels. So, these are brand new platforms in the case
of YouTube and Amazon Prime Channels that is only a few months old. We are also
available internationally. A part of what is really changing in this market is
the platforms that we are available on smart TVs. Three years ago, we were not
that big of a platform. Over the last few years, they have grown hugely in some
of the other platforms and have declined a little bit. So, we need to be
Chris: It is similar to podcasting. It
used to be just one channel. Now it's iHeart
radio, it’s Spotify, It’s Stitcher, it's Apple and I'm on all those too.
Sean: Yeah. I think it's a good plug for
yourself. And because we don't know where the technology is going next, we
don't know where our audience is going to go next, you need to be everywhere.
Because they all take investment in time and effort are key. But you need to be
in as many places as you can because if your audience watches TV on LG Smart
TV, you have to be there and watching or listening to it.
Chris: It is an ever- evolving process
with this type of industry and this type of media. You don't know what's going to be big
Sean: No, no, sir.
Chris: So how do you stay ahead of the
Sean: You got to be mapping the terrain
in every single part of the ecosystem. So, you've got to be looking at smart
TVs, looking at tech devices, looking at all the big digital players, because
they're doing different things. You cannot know what's going to happen. So, our
philosophy is to be in as many places as we can, because then we're going to be
in a place that takes off.
Chris: How do you pick your program? How
do you say, “Okay, this show is doing okay but this was better. How do you
process your data?”
Sean: So, in advance of getting content
up on the platform, we would use ratings on linear TV. That would be one place
to start. But we also know that it's not up to us to make a determination what
the audience likes, we want to put some content up that maybe there's no data
on. And we'll pretty quickly have data on and so we put content out there, this
is brand new, some are doing well, some aren't. So, where there is data we use
it, but some shows perform differently on your television than they do on the
streaming channels. So, crappie fishing is
a great example. Not a huge category on linear television philosophies. But
does quite well on streaming. So, if we look just at linear television, we
wouldn't spend much time on it. But because it's a different market, people can
go in and find what they want easily. We need to have content to serve all
these niches and we don't have data for all so where we don't have data we
Chris: Okay, so let's say, I want to start
a TV show. How would I get on MOTV? Is there a vetting process?
Sean: Yeah, I'd say to stand out you need
to show us that you've got some traction and so on. It could be on YouTube; it
could be on Instagram. And what we need to know is that, we need to look at it
and still say, “That looks good.” And there needs to be some verification of
that from an audience. So again, it could be developed X number of subscribers
on YouTube or it could be something we want to test. Like if someone came and
said, “Look, I've got …like the adventure category is really interesting to us
and some of our audiences really like that. This guy, he's hunting or fishing
in it. But if you came to me and said, “I have this brand-new series, we're
getting lots of interaction on Facebook and Instagram, and it's got hunting and
fishing adventures.” We might want to take a flier on that and test.
Chris: So, what can we expect this year?
Sean: More live TV scheduled channels,
content in different formats and lengths and types. So, we know that the
concept from linear does very well. So, what other contents are going to do
well? Is it short? How short? This is content that's going to do well. How many
scheduled TV channels do we have and still keep building the audience and keep
people coming back? That's we're going to find out in 2023 and then we got all
these brand-new platforms Vizio, YouTube content channels, so each of those
platforms is different. The audiences are different, the kind of content they
want is different and so we're going to be learning what they want and giving
them some more of that.
Chris: What about reality TV?
Sean: There's a place for that. Again, if it's adventure and ties
and hunting or fishing, then we're interested. It's not our bread and butter
now. Anybody who's watched Alone, great, great series.
Chris: It’s ever evolving. You've come a
long way in those three years.
Sean: We have. Thank you for noticing.
Chris: It's my job. But I appreciate you
taking the time to speak to us today. And we look forward to what you have
coming up and just tune in.
Sean: Thank you