Bonnier Launches Streaming Video Service for Saltwater Anglers
Free to access, SLT is aimed at following audiences from broadcast to digital video and creating new, quality opportunities for marketers.
Consumer-facing publishers—especially those in enthusiast, passion-driven markets—increasingly find themselves tasked with creating new and innovative touchpoints with their audiences.
Taking that approach to heart is Bonnier Corp., the special-interest publisher known for titles like Field & Stream, Popular Science, and Saveur, who announced on last week the launch of SLT, a free-to-access SVOD platform geared specifically toward saltwater anglers.
Currently live at Saltwater.TV, SLT offers a growing collection of over 150 videos—both created by Bonnier in-house and sourced from outside producers—including the company's popular "Sport Fishing Television" series that airs on Destination America.
"To stay relevant as a consumer brand, you have to be where the audience is," Bonnier's VP of brand strategies, Matt Hickman, tells Folio:. "Our audiences are looking for us on social, they’re subscribing to our email list, they’re trending toward mobile for consumption. It’s a very dynamic customer ecosystem. We feel it necessary to continue to evolve our brands to meet the needs of our audience."
A major motivation for the launch of SLT, says Hickman, is the need for a hybrid distribution channel, something to ease the effects of waning audiences for linear, broadcast video.
"In our own experience producing TV shows within the hyper-endemic category of saltwater, we found a need to go beyond broadcast," adds Hickman. "We'll continue in broadcast, because broadcast is still powerful, but the viewership within any channel has, from our perspective, been in decline. There are more people watching, but they’re watching more channels."
Finding that individuals, particularly in endemic spaces like saltwater fishing, are increasingly accessing outlets that focus specifically on their passion, Bonnier saw an opportunity to fill a void in the marketplace. There really was no such destination specific to saltwater anglers.
Beneficiaries are two-fold: consumers get access to a library of free, mobile-optimized video, and endemic marketers get access to those passionate, high-quality audience segments in what Hickman calls a "zero-waste capacity."
"[Marketers] don’t have to wade through the fringe audience to get to the right person, but we're also providing a premium, authentic, and most importantly, on-demand experience for our audience," Hickman says.
All content on the platform is freely-accessible, and Hickman describes the business model as three-pronged. Pre-roll video will be a major part of the platform's monetization, alongside a limited inventory of traditional banner ads.
"We're very conscious of the volume of inventory," Hickman adds. "People are coming here for a video experience. We expect that they'll be okay with pre-roll advertising, but we wanted to mimimize the other advertising."
The second major component is sponsorhips. Yeti, a Texas-based manufacturer of portable coolers, is SLT's launch partner, and their branding appears throughout the site. The third component is distribution partnerships.
"Our idea is to go out and find more partners, brands that want to reach the saltwater angler, who have a premium video library that they want to distribute."
In all of this, the vital importance of mobile-optimization isn't lost on Bonnier. The saltwater fisherman is outdoors. He or she is active, an outdoor enthusiast, and staying connected with a mobile device is a big part of his or her daily life.
"We developed this platform because we saw a trend, and that's higher consumption across all of our digital channels via mobile devices," says Hickman. "We knew that in order to stay engaged and continue to deliver an experience, it not only needed to be web-based and accessible on demand, but also mobile and accessible anywhere, anytime."
An iOS app has been developed and is awaiting approval from the iTunes App Store—Hickman says it could become available any day, but cited the importance of getting SLT out and into the hands of consumers as early in the summer as possible. An Apple TV launch is scheduled to coincide with ICAST, an annual sportfishing expo in Orlando in July.
The possibilities for integration with brands that currently exist in Bonnier's Marine & Aviation Group—Saltwater Sportsman, Sportfishing, and Marlin, to name a few—are seemingly endless, but Hickman says he prefers to consider SLT an additional brand for the portfolio.
"There are two customer groups we serve: audiences and marketing partners. We wanted to create an authentic, on-demand experience for our audience, and also a premium audience of anglers for our marketers that they can reach in that zero-waste capacity," Hickman continues. "Our approach is super customer-focused. That’s really what brought this together."