App gives Colts fans on-demand video content, team new revenue stream

April 16, 2014
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Local football fans have a new way to feed their appetite for all things related to the Indianapolis Colts, and the NFL team has a new revenue stream.

The Colts recently contracted with California-based DeskSite to launch an app to feed fan laptops, tablets, desktop computers and televisions with on-demand Colts-centric video content.

Although there’s much emphasis on mobile content these days, DeskSite’s app is not designed for cell phones. Company officials explain that advertisers complain the phones are too small for their ads.

This fall, DeskSite users will be able to receive the videos through an Xbox game system, which company officials say will make it much easier to view its content on TV.

DeskSite’s NFL partner teams provide video ranging from behind-the-scenes locker room content, post-game wrap-up shows, player interviews, cheerleader profiles and even full-length TV shows on the teams. DeskSite produces and manages the app and sells ads intertwined in the content. The two sides split the money. DeskSite officials wouldn’t disclose how much the company gets.

Described by company officials as a DVR for the Internet, the DeskSite offering serves as a content library that automatically downloads and stores videos directly to users’ devices, allowing fans to view high-definition videos even when they are offline.

Playback is instantaneous, with none of the buffering, freezing or dropping associated with streaming video, company officials said. The app also offers features like user-enacted slow motion and rewind.

Users also can be notified via an audio alert on their recording devices every time a new video is downloaded.

Fans can sign up for Colts DeskSite through the Colts website. There’s no charge and users are only required to give their age and gender. That information is required, said DeskSite CEO Richard Gillam, so targeted ads can be sold.

Gillam insists the approach is good for advertisers and viewers because advertisers can target ads to a much more specific audience than they can through TV or the Web, and Colts DeskSite users won’t get bombarded with ads for products that don’t interest them. It also allows DeskSite to charge a premium for advertising, Gillam said.

“The NFL says 45 percent of its audience is female, and that’s a huge audience,” he said. “But because there are so many men watching the NFL, some companies targeting women have hesitated to advertise in this space.”

DeskSite sells 15- and 30-second ads to national advertisers across all their NFL team apps—and Gillam promises no more than 10 percent of the content will be advertising.

“Compare that to TV, which is 25- to 27-percent advertising,” Gillam said. “Or even to Hulu, which is now at 20-percent advertising.”

DeskSite boasts average monthly viewership (per viewer) of 12 hours on its NFL sites during the regular season, eight hours during the preseason, and six hours during the postseason. During the off season, the average is two hours.

According to Nielsen Media Research, viewers of Hulu, the popular online provider of TV shows and movies, watch an average of four hours per month.

DeskSite will charge advertisers $50 to $70 per thousand views of its ad—$10 extra per thousand for an ad targeted to a specific age group and another $10 to gender target.

DeskSite was founded in 2007 and signed its first NFL deal with the New England Patriots in 2011. DeskSite since has signed deals with the New York Jets, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.

The Colts and Cincinnati Bengals are the most recent to sign. The company hopes to have 20 teams by the upcoming season, Gillam said, and hopes to launch apps for NBA and NHL teams this fall. He declined to say which NBA and NHL teams the company is negotiating with, though he said the Indiana Pacers were not among them.

Though Gillam said the revenue stream is currently shallow, he envisions teams realizing six- or even seven-figure annual revenue streams from their cut of the ads.

“It won’t be enough to sign a first-round draft pick,” Gillam said, “but we think in time it could be a significant revenue stream for teams. With DeskSite, we think teams can definitely generate more revenue from their video than they would by simply putting it on their own website.”

Gillam expects the Colts DeskSite offering to be one of the most popular in the NFL.

“The Colts are a national team,” Gillam said. “They’re No. 5 in the NFL in terms of Twitter followers, visitors to their website and their presence in social media. We think the following of the Colts DeskSite will go far beyond the local market. We think it’s going to be huge.”

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