Insight TV’s Rian Bester

Rian Bester, CEO of Insight TV, tells TV Real about the multiplatform strategy and programming mix that are helping the channel and its content reach younger generations with “visually stunning” 4K UHD storytelling.

The Insight TV channel features a bevy of 4K UHD programming targeting fans of action sports, lifestyle fare and entertainment shows. In creating its own content, Insight is focused on taking viewers on an adventure and regularly taps into global influencers to help tell stories about trending communities.

***Image***TV REAL: When did the first Insight TV channel launch, and what was the driving force behind its creation?
BESTER: Insight TV officially launched in 2015. During our strategic development phase, we knew we had to offer something different and unique to what was already available. This meant taking ownership for the type of content we commissioned and produced, and also how that content was created. In evaluating the market, we were left with one option: being UHD at 50fps. We knew that producing content at this level was going to be a bit of a risk, but given the success of our shows these past couple of years, it is obvious that we made the right decision. We now feel that we are at the forefront of this television revolution, making exciting programs in the ultra high-definition that our viewers love. Since we launched, we have grown significantly, and our content is available in many different languages on platforms and smart TVs around the world.

TV REAL: What was the initial target market for rolling out the channel and how has this footprint grown?
BESTER: We initially targeted the European market, working closely with distribution partners including Sky, Vodafone Portugal, Vodafone Spain and Swisscom, as well as production companies such as Sky Vision. In September 2016, we announced a partnership with Samsung, which saw the launch of the world’s first fully UHD SVOD service for Samsung Smart TVs. To ensure that our viewers can access our content globally, using simple-to-navigate app-based technology, we followed this up with another important technology partnership, this time with LG Electronics. We have also recently launched a sophisticated Windows Store application built on the latest eighth generation Intel Core processors, which allows users to stream Insight TV content on all Universal Windows Platform devices. The channel is also available in HD on the Amazon Channels SVOD and linear TV service in the U.K. and Germany, and in UHD and HD on more than 40 broadcast platforms globally.

We will continue to work with super talents to bring the most exciting and unique content to our community at the highest quality. We will be announcing more distribution partnerships with platforms worldwide to ensure our shows reach as many viewers as possible. In December 2018, we announced a distribution partnership in China with Shanghai Oriental Pearl on its BesTV platform. This year, we’ve announced distribution deals in the U.S. with RCN and Samsung on its TV Plus platform, and we plan to make further announcements soon.

We are in the fortunate position of producing all of our own content and thereby owning all of the rights, which means we can deliver content everywhere and anywhere by taking advantage of all of the different routes to market, including linear, SVOD and AVOD services.

TV REAL: How does the channel aim to engage the younger, millennial and/or Gen Z, audience?
BESTER: Millennials have changed production values and have a major influence over the television genre that non-traditional content creators, like Insight TV, are making. This is partly due to the fact that millennials care less about material worth and more about life experiences. Our philosophy at Insight TV is to provide this experience through interesting, relatable, creative content anytime, anywhere, through any device. Our own research has shown that this demographic is much more willing to dictate what they watch and where and when they watch it. They want authentic content that relates to their lifestyles, friendships, aspirations and experiences, and they want it available online and 24/7. At Insight TV, we very much speak to that demand, providing content based on those requirements.

TV REAL: What’s the multiplatform strategy?
BESTER: With linear TV it is relatively straightforward: there is a mature market with satellite, cable, DTT and telco platforms with subscriber bases who understand the value proposition that is offered to them by those operators. We work within that environment, partnering with operators to help them promote our shows, and year over year we see a growing distribution reach.

Linear TV is still very powerful, but with digital there is a significant shift. Streaming is where many consumers are moving their subscriptions, money and interests. Working with partners, our SVOD and AVOD services deliver transactional opportunities that meet global consumer demand.

TV REAL: Looking at the programming mix, what are the key genres the channel features, and why are these particularly well-suited to the 4K/UHD format?
BESTER: Our content, which is shot in beautiful locations around the world, is visually stunning and is a showcase for UHD HDR technology. Our production philosophy, and also our partnerships with brands like Monster Energy, has allowed us to create authentic content based on inspirational characters, highlighting topical issues and experiences that are important to younger generations globally. Apart from featuring high-profile must-watch super talents, we make shows based on sports, lifestyle and ecological topics that focus on the individuals behind the theme at a grass roots level. We tell their stories, documenting the sacrifices they have made and the wild journey they’re on to realize their dreams.

In addition to high-octane shows, we also like to make high-quality provocative, conversation-starter shows. Our latest series Travel with a Goat has sparked debates around the world with one simple question: “Freedom or feast, what would you do?”

TV REAL: Is there enough 4K content out there in the marketplace or do you see a need for more producers to get on board with this format?
BESTER: Although the amount of UHD content available is limited, the requirement for UHD technology is growing fast. Last summer’s huge sporting calendar was a major driver for UHD in terms of acquisition, delivery and consumer sales. When these types of global events finish, TV platforms have to continue to fill the gap with UHD content that matches their premium offering. Insight TV’s UHD content fits that model because the channel delivers around 200 hours of fresh content every year. Insight specializes in adventurous content about trending communities told through global influencers that appeals to 20- to 34-year-olds, which is typically the demographic that tends to buy the latest technologies like UHD TVs.

The ongoing migration to UHD will continue as consumers demand high-quality content through the increasing numbers of UHD sets being sold annually. And because the global acceleration of broadcast technology is speeding up the consumer cycle, this puts pressure on consumer-electronics manufacturers to enhance and entice consumers to switch to newer devices.

Furthermore, we will see UHD content not only on major content-delivery platforms but increasingly on smaller OTT platforms, which serve niche audiences. While the sharp shift that we experienced with HD is unlikely, major content producers are already beginning to invest a proportion of their annual production spend on UHD programming.

TV REAL: What other activities is Insight TV involved in that it can offer the international media marketplace?
BESTER: As well as creating new content, we sell our formats to global media distributors. We recently sold the rights to our latest show Travel with a Goat in the U.K. and Denmark, and will be announcing further details soon. We also work closely with partners, including Monster Energy, to create the most exciting content, shot in the craziest locations in the highest quality.

TV REAL: What’s next for the company, as you look ahead at the next 12 to 18 months?
BESTER: We are looking forward to expanding our distribution and production partnerships across the world so that more viewers can enjoy the unique, authentic content that Insight TV creates. We’re also working on a host of new shows with super talents based on thought-provoking subjects and global trending topics. Watch this space!