Niche streaming platforms have established their place in the ecosystem by offering targeted, affordable content to audiences who know what they want, a ScreenDaily Talks webinar heard this week.

Watch the full session above.

Since BritBox launched in North America in 2017, CEO and president Soumya Sriraman said the platform had surpassed one million subscribers in less than three years (it has since crossed 1.2million) and was set for further growth with its eye on original commissioning, co-productions, and international expansion.

While the platform – 50% owned by BBC Studios and ITV – was “originally contemplated as something that could sit very nicely along what was already happening in the market”, Sriraman noted consumer adoption meant “we’ve now come into our own and we’re sitting alongside [the larger streaming platforms]… We proudly have our chests out going, ‘Yep, we belong’.”

Matt Stein, head of creative strategy at TV internet service Philo TV observed his company, which has grown into a purveyor of lifestyle content since launching in 2009 as Tivli when it delivered broadband TV to colleges, brings value to subscribers by not carrying programming that features commonly on other platforms.

“We’re hyper-focused on bringing the most value possible at the lowest cost to our consumers,” Stein said. “So we’ve crafted a bundle, a skinny bundle, that is focused on entertainment television. We don’t have news and we don’t have sports, which helps keep the subscription costs down.”

For Rob Holmes, vice-president of programming at Roku, which started as a streaming device and in 2017 launched the free, ad-supported aggregator Roku Channel, the service’s AVOD component is one of the key elements that brings value for customers.

“In this transition from the cable world to OTT, [customers are] finally just looking to save money… From a consumer standpoint they’re also just looking for free… I think it’s one of the things that Roku has done really well for a long time,” he said.  “And we constantly are talking to our users. 40% of recent cord cutters cited the availability of free content as one of the reasons they cut the cord. We see it as a category that’s growing faster than subscription and virtual MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] overall, in terms of ad-supported content.”

On the subject of inclusion and diversity, Stein emphasised Philo’s efforts were built around reflecting its audiences. “On the marketing front we really try hard to think about representation in our creative output. So when I’m shooting a commercial, I’m really thinking about who our audience is [and] who we want to have in the spot. Are we featuring diverse people in the spot?

“We have a small content team that is really making sure that we are bringing a kind of diverse range of life experiences to think about what shows we are going to put money behind when we are started running ads.”

Philo donated $1m of ad inventory this quarter to black-owned businesses and pro social initiatives. This, and other corporative initiatives, were “an ongoing process”, he said.

International expansion is very much the name of the game as services look to scale their businesses geographically.

“We’ve announced Australia – it’s launching very soon and slightly more recently than that we’ve also announced further expansion into more markets,” Sriraman said of BritBox. “Stay tuned, we’re bullish… In the world of streaming, unlike the world of cable, there are no borders.”