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    VA Media expanding its suite of YouTube channels as it commissions originals

    Former group general manager of Foxtel’s Lifestyle channels, Hannah Barnes, has been at VA Media for two years. The company is home to a global network of genre-based movie, TV and creator channels on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and other AVOD streaming platforms.

    Barnes, VA Media’s director of unscripted and original content, told Mediaweek her current role is very different to what she used to do in television. She spent 15 years in traditional TV with generally flat or declining audiences. “We are in growth at VA Media,” Barnes said.

    VA Media has recently branched out into making its own originals. “We started off making shorts and then moved into compilations where we work with production company The Full Box.”

    The production house behind Australian Crime Stories has provided content for VA Media’s True Crime Central and Australian Crime channels.

    My First Time is the first VA Media original, a new LGBTQI+ 10 x 20′ documentary series produced together with 96 pieces of social content.

    “That was developed in-house with two different producers. Faye Welborn was development executive to begin with. Then Carolyn Cage came on board. She worked on Queerstralia for ABC.

    “One of the episodes is focused on coming out. The different coming out stories are very interesting.”

    VA Media expanding its suite of YouTube channels as it commissions originals

    More VA Media originals coming

    “We are going to double down on LGBTQI+ content because we feel there is still not enough content in that space,” said Barnes. “In Australia, there are no production companies just focusing on that.”

    The LGBTQI+ channel is branded We Are Pride. It has close to half a million subscribers and has had around 14m views in the past three months.

    Barnes said My First Time has been developed as a format and VA Media will be looking to commercialise the format.

    “Alongside that we are also creating Australian crime content. We are also looking at movies.

    “At the moment we create original movie compilations, but we are looking at what we could do in the sci-fi and horror genres.”

    Growing the team

    VA Media is slowly building out its talented team. “We have just hired a new content creator and we have a production coordinator, Olivia O’Brien.” When VA Media needs extra hands beyond the team it works with freelance specialists around Australia.

    “One of the key things we want to do is provide another opportunity for the production community beyond what the streaming platforms and the networks are commissioning.

    “We are very focused on taking Australian stories to the rest of the world. While we are based in Australia, we really want to grow our profile not just in Australia. But also the rest of the world including the US and the UK.”

    “People are watching from Brazil, India, Indonesia. We aim for global rights, but we do geoblock when we can’t get all the rights we want. We focus on the top English-speaking territories.”

    Living in luxury

    Barnes is a specialist when it comes to lifestyle programming. She said she wanted to clearly understand the platform before expanding into other genres too quickly.

    “We have launched a new channel called Luxury Living. It has a focus on high-end lifestyle content. We will be taking audiences behind the closed doors of luxury hotels and high-end interior design.” The channel won’t be delving into the DIY lifestyle space. Not yet anyway.

    YouTube goes to the movies

    The biggest VA Media channel is Movie Central with 4.6m subscribers. It has three movies with well over 20m views each and a long list around the 10m views mark.

    In addition to We Are Pride, other unscripted channels include Documentary Central, True Crime Central, Australian Crime, Luxury Living and an as-yet-to-launch male-skewing channel.

    Revenue streams

    The revenue comes from YouTube monetisation via ads played during the content.

    The privately-owned business has a number of shareholders and they have just enjoyed the most successful year yet in terms of views and revenue. Former music industry executive Mark Ashbridge is the CEO and Ed St John, the well-known journalist-turned-music exec, is the vice chairman.

    “The decision to expand originals shows the strength and the ambitions of the business,” explained Barnes.

    “We rely very heavily on licensed content and we are probably the biggest independent movie distributor on YouTube. We also license from the biggest unscripted players in the UK and Australia.

    “The focus now is very much our owned and operated channels. We do still run channels for clients, like Sony, but we are focused on generating our own revenues.”

    The VA Media content deals for licensed programming are revenue share agreements.

    See also: Brandcast 2023 – YouTube and Google unveil its insights, new solutions and outlook ahead

    The post VA Media expanding its suite of YouTube channels as it commissions originals appeared first on Mediaweek.

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