Streaming of Jamaican and Caribbean content is now a reality in Jamaica. Two streaming platforms, CaribFlix TV and Vueture Entertainment, are aiming to make that possible.
The Jamaican entrepreneurs that are making these streaming dreams reality know what they are up against. The big heavyweights in the streaming networks world are lready making inroads into Jamaica:
- YouTube TV
- Amazon Prime Video
Still, it is possible to carve out a niche, especially, as most of the content coming from those top streamers is heavily Americanized. Still, we Jamaicans tend to like anything that is foreign, only subverting to Jamaican made products if it is value for money and has some nostalgic sentiment that reverberates with a large number of the masses.
So who exactly are these streaming dreamers from Jamaica? And is there a demand for local content by Jamaicans? Are Jamaicans demand for original content already satiated by American shows or is there a niche for Jamaican content?
CaribFlix TV – Content, copyright and constant maintenance needing investment
Launched in November 2017 by web developer David Wilson, CaribFlix TV currently have a small footprint in terms of content:
- 73 films available for free streaming
- 30 films available for premium users
“I’m trying to put local and Caribbean movies on one site, similar to Netflix, because we realize there is no one to represent us, and even if we were there, we would be lost,” said web developer David Wilson in a Gleaner interview.
He consulted with local film professionals, JAMPRO’s Film Commission and other government agencies.
However, as with any good startup, money and new audiences to gain subscriber traction is key to his survival, as maintenance costs are slowly becoming a problem, quote: “I’ve been funding this out of my own pocket, so it’s a little slow”.
His money has been spent mainly to purchase hardware and software necessary to keep CaribFlix TV running smoothly:
- Copyright for content
- Streaming maintenance software
Despite these challenges, he is very much ahead of the game, as not even Television Jamaica or CVM TV have any strong streaming presence locally or abroad.
Vueture Entertainment – Making roots plays and local film productions in the works
On the other hand, Vueture Entertainment, launched in January 2019, was started by Twain Richardson with more cash and a more organized approach. Vueture Entertainment is an amalgamation of local post-production company Frame of Reference, Krystal Clear Logics and Mag TV.
- Streaming services for live events
- Streaming services stage productions
He also seems to have more support and insight from Silicon Valley, having been to Netflix’s offices in Los Angeles California. Vueture Entertainment plans to incorporated some of the knowledge learned from these visits to Netflix’s operation into his own operation.
Like CaribFlix TV, Twain Richardson is hoping to push more roots plays and local film productions in the coming months. “We’re looking to push more roots plays to the Canadian diaspora. We do have Jamaican content on there and some films on the site. We’re in negotiations with a few film-makers from the Caribbean to get their content,” said Twain Richardson in a Gleaner interview.
His subscriptions are also on the rise as he pointed out, “We have been getting new users monthly, so even though the growth has been slow, we have been growing.”
Jamaicans are unlikely to be interested in streaming Jamaican content, since they can easily get this content via purchasing illegally burned DVD as well as downloading videos from the internet. Also, we do not have a culture of using credit cards, as we are not the type of culture to purchase digital products or intangibles online.
So where is the uptick in subscribers coming from?
Jamaican and Caribbean streaming – Subscribers in Africa and Asia as pirates loom
The going is slow but the potential is huge.
The demand for local production is coming not from Jamaicans but members of the diaspora living abroad and new viewers online looking for something new and with a taste for Jamaicans entertainment.
After all, With Digicel Play and FLOW on Demand cornering the local cable market, these local streaming entrepreneurs have to look out into cyberspace and make their presence online known.
This requires them to do a lot of marketing both in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as well as SMM (Social Media Marketing).
Both CaribFlix TV and Vueture Entertainment have plans to achieve increases in investment and revenue from streaming, but they are going about it on decidedly different pathways.
CaribFlix TV is aiming for increased subscribers in Africa and Asia. They already has apps developed and available on Google Play and Android app stores, with apps for Roku TV and Amazon in the works.
Vueture Entertainment has made a call for independent film makers to make film submissions, said Twain Richardson, “The process to submit is fairly easy. Just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the content type. We’ll watch it so we can place it in a category, then we enter negotiations in terms of how long it will be on the platform and payment structure”.
But rather than wait for content to develope, they are also investing in content, a decidedly Netflix and Amazon-like move. Vueture Entertainment is getting into the business of producing roots plays for online distribution to quote Twain Richardson: “We’re looking to provide a studio space for the plays to be done”.
Clearly they are no threat to Television Jamaica and CVM TV. But their push into digital streaming is worth noting, as if the local Jamaican pirates catch on to this idea, the local Television stations may be too late to the party already crowded with a lot of niche players.
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