If you’re counting down the days until Netflix’s “The Crown” returns, this new streaming service might be your next guilty pleasure.
True Royalty TV, a recently launched, Vimeo-powered subscription video on demand (SVOD) service, goes beyond tabloid headlines to tell the true story of royalty. We sat down with Co-founder and CEO Gregor Angus to get the scoop on the new service, SVOD models, and why the Royals hold such fascination.
In your own words, how would you describe True Royalty TV?
True Royalty TV provides the context, backstory and truth to the goings-on with monarchies around the world, but most particularly to the British Royal Family. There’s a lot of media coverage of the Royals that is very surface level, but there’s an unmet need, a deep curiosity around how things really work behind the Palace gates.
Why do you think the Royals are so compelling to viewers?
We did some research around that, and there’s obviously a fascination with any public figure, so there’s a celebrity-fascination aspect to it. There’s something that relates to the aspirational. But I think the most interesting thing that we’ve seen as a theme is around the symbol of stability and continuity.
The Queen is the most famous person in the world. She’s had very few “misfires”, if any during her reign. She’s always just been a symbol of class and stability and diplomacy.
How does True Royalty TV compare to “The Crown” and other pop culture depictions of the monarchy?
“The Crown” is my best friend because it introduces our characters. The job the producers have done to date, with Margaret — people think she’s a Hollywood character that drinks martinis and smokes cigarettes in bed in the morning. She’s actually a real person, the Queen’s sister, who lived a fascinating life. Rather than go to Wikipedia, you can come to True Royalty and really go deep and understand it. And frankly, the factual content is as entertaining as “The Crown” for different reasons.
Why did you decide to start a subscription network?
I was running marketing service agencies in London, and when I first arrived in London from Canada, my co-founder Edward Mason helped me with some projects. We were catching up, and he’d recently been advising his friend Nick Bullen, an independent TV producer in London, that his business would have to evolve with everything that’s changing in terms of format and digital platforms.
I had come off a project advising a streaming company on their marketing strategy and going direct to consumers. We started discussing whether Nick’s Royal content could hold water as a standalone channel, and I offered to write up a business plan for it. And the deal was that if we believed in it, we had to execute the plan.
If you have a clear proposition and a dedicated fan base, it’s a winning formula.
I’ve learned that you have to be prudent in terms of investment in content and technology because you have to still have the means to identify an audience and get people to the service. If all the money’s gone and you’ve developed all sorts of bells and whistles, but no one knows you exist, you’re in big trouble. So we did a balanced go-to-market strategy with minimum viable technology and, in a way, minimum viable content.
I think there’s cynicism around SVOD, and I recognize why it’s there. When you’re a general interest SVOD in the current market and dynamic, boy is it hard to differentiate, find, and retain an audience. Unless you’re one of the big guys, it’s best not to be in general interest. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a clear proposition and a dedicated fan base, it’s a winning formula. I don’t need 20 million or 50 million subscribers. You can have a phenomenal business with half a million or a million subscribers globally.
Why did you decide to launch your network using the Vimeo OTT platform?
We know we have 25 million people in the U.S. interested in our brand and our topic through the testing we’ve done. We have to find a way to be visible and present and accessible to as many of those as possible.
Choosing Vimeo was a simple decision. We needed a Roku app immediately — with 30 million accounts in the U.S., Roku was truly a major hole in our reach. We also needed to get in-app payment immediately, as we were driving traffic through iOS, Android, and Apple TV, and we saw a breakdown and friction because users couldn’t make in-app purchases. Our estimate is that the conversion rate will improve 3-4x.
What has been your favorite aspect of working with Vimeo OTT?
Vimeo delivers on its promises. Vimeo works the way I like to work: they keep it simple, they don’t over-promise, they deliver on time. So, what can be a pretty hairy thing, migrating your television service, wasn’t hairy at all. The Vimeo OTT product does exactly what it said it would do. You want a very solid television service, and that’s what we’re getting from Vimeo.
What advice would you give to other would-be SVOD services?
The people that come into this business tend to understand content. They tend to understand that they need to either learn about or partner with people that understand the technology. But they miss the marketing piece.
If you remove the broadcaster from the equation, and you don’t understand what the broadcaster did as a distributor, as a brand expert, as an advertiser, as the person who brought the audience to you, it’s a pretty big miss. It doesn’t really matter at all what kind of technology and content you have if you cannot market properly.