While most web series are available via YouTube, there are platforms like StreamNowTV that exist solely for the streaming of web series. Ron Valderrama, CEO and creator of StreamNowTV saw a need for such a platform and launched StreamNowTV just a few years ago that not only focuses on web series but indie films as well. Check out our interview with him below!
netTVnow: Tell me about a bit about your background.
Ron Valderrama: It’s pretty weird. I actually have been working in healthcare finance for most of my career [laughs].
netTVnow: So how did you get involved with web series and indie films?
RV: A few years ago, I launched a company and part of what we were doing was a video magazine geared towards social life and stuff like that. I wound up doing interviews with filmmakers and one of them was currently filming so we got to go on set and spend some time with the cast and crew. I ended up staying in touch with the filmmaker and he suggested doing a project together. I told him, “I don’t really do any of this stuff man,” [laughs]. I’m not a producer, actor, any of that, but he told me I could do it.
I did another interview with a guy named Michael Campo who has done some really amazing films, one of which at the time was on Netflix called The Human Experience. Campo and I became really great friends and he sort of said the same thing the other guy did in that we should do something together. At this point I just kinda said why not.
netTVnow: How did the StreamNow platform come about?
RV: Campo and I decided that we were going to try and turn one of his movies into a series since it was a documentary film. We both had connections at Netflix, got a meeting and thought, “Okay this could be a really great thing for us.” We ended up bombing the meeting [laughs]. It was right when Netflix was really investing in original content and making a lot of headlines. Suffice to say we didn’t get what we wanted and I just thought, “Screw it, I’ll just make my own platform” and that was it!
I made a crappy website and just put it out there to see if anyone would actually look at it. It was shocking because the website was really terrible at first. There was hardly anything on it but it was getting 6,000 views in that first month so I started to take it more seriously.
netTVnow: Did you have any trepidation about launching the platform?
RV: I didn’t at first, I actually have more now. I’m a business guy and a student of entrepreneurship/start ups, so for me, I don’t ever push in all the chips. I’m more about starting something and then testing it and reacting on the results. Initially, I just put this crappy website out there to see if anybody cares. After I saw they did, I started to make the website a little better,tested things out to see what people responded to and let the data speak for itself. Once I saw that, I launched the mobile app and saw the same reception there.
It was easier when I initially launched because I was able to build everything myself and I didn’t monetize really until last summer. I didn’t need all these licensing deals and stuff back then. Now that the web series industry is starting to really blossom, I am paying for the content and doing partnerships; this past March we partnered with Gravitas Ventures and Cinema Libre.
netTVnow: How long has it been since the platform launched and what else does it offer?
RV: It’s been about two years now since launch. The site is completely self-funded and was really just created as a result of me wanting to build a platform to put my own stuff out. Then I realized that there are a lot of talented people on YouTube that aren’t getting the views they deserve so I really made an emphasis on being the “Netflix” for this kind of content.
It’s not even just a website. We’ve got a mobile app and it’s also on Roku, smart TVs, etc. We’re bringing this industry into the living room, quite literally. There are very few platforms that have any focus on web series and indie films.
netTVnow: I noticed that after watching a series on your site that episodes didn’t automatically play another one or try to redirect you to another series.
RV: I really wanted to try and demolish that episode two fallout and keep my platform designed to focus on one person’s content at a time. If you get on YouTube and watch the first episode of a series, there’s usually a lot of views, but then you take a look at the second one and there’s a significant drop. I think platforms like YouTube were designed to keep you on their site and attract you to similar content that you’re already watching so it drives you to other people’s content. It can be hard to keep up and find the next episode. If you don’t have a very unique name to your series, it can get lost in the fray of other videos that contain your name.
I really hope this pays off for the creators too since the whole goal is to make sure that their work gets shown and highlighted.
netTVnow: With the types of web series that you offer, what’s the selection process like for those who are interested in being streamed on your site?
RV: I personally am in charge of making the larger deals, just from a licensing standpoint, but we have a submission page on our website as well. We actually charge $20 for submissions now and our guidelines make it clear that the odds of getting chosen are pretty unlikely but the submission fee goes to our content team.
The content team is made up of myself, Campo, Eric Vale, a writer most popularly known for his film Chariot and Chris Sergi, who specializes in broadcasting and works quite a bit with that industry. Once you submit your work, we send e feedback focused on the content as a whole, as well as on the technical work. So that $20 submission fee goes towards the content team and the time we spend analyzing the work.
As a result of this,we’ve had people who submit their work just to get their content reviewed and receive the feedback from this team. For an additional fee, you can even have a consulting phone call with the team. The great part about that though is that the project doesn’t even need to be complete for the session, it could be in any stage of production and we provide feedback based on what you provide us.
netTVnow: With being exposed to so many web series now, what are sort of the main characteristics you look for in a show to select to feature on your website?
RV: I try and stay clear of being biased on my personal preferences. What’s funny to you, may not be funny to me. I don’t need to like everything on the site, but the analytics prove that there are a lot of people that like certain things so I let that speak for itself.
One of the things I like to focus on is how well done a web series or film is. From a production value standpoint, is the sound good? That’s the biggest thing that will turn people away. The real technical pieces are what’s important to me.
netTVnow: You also recently launched StreamNowPro, what’s the difference between that and StreamNowTV?
RV: StreamNowPro just launched and features more premium type content. So what you’ll see there is more “top shelf” features through our partnerships with Gravitas and Cinema Libre, but they’re still indie films just with bigger names attached to them. The pro version is also ad free and includes series with longer formats and high value production, A whole year is $12 or you can pay monthly at $2 a month.
netTVnow: Can you share any future plans for StreamNowTV?
RV: Ultimately, the end goal for me was to make original content and that’s in play right now. StreamNowTV is working on three different shows and it’s really interesting right now watching each show come together.
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