Hours upon hours of video never make it into the programming on the Discovery Channel, but rather that leaving all that raw footage on the cutting room floor, it has found a way to monetize them through a partnership with stock video provider VideoBlocks. The network, known for its popular “Shark Week” and other science and nature-based shows, is making 30,000 royalty-free clips available for VideoBlocks subscribers to use in their videos, such as aerial shots of volcanos and hurricanes, Civil War reenactments, and up-close footage of wild animals. The new content will be available in VideoBlocks’ Marketplace, starting in early 2016.
“The Discovery clips are beautiful and there are a ton of them,” says Greta Pittard, VideoBlocks’ head of Content Acquisition and Contributor Engagement. “They gave us over 100,000 clips to go through and we’re currently putting those clips through our quality-control process. We only accept 4K and HD content, so we’ll weed out any content that isn’t those.
“It’s a massive library,” Pittard adds, who came to VideoBlocks after having spent years as a producer for Discovery and the Smithsonian Channel. “It spans 30 years of Discovery’s footprint in filmmaking and documentaries. It’s a wide variety of footage, everything from shots of major cities and small towns; from Antarctica to the jungles; cultural scenes from around the world; nature and wildlife; aerial shots of migration patterns; crime and forensics; adventure sports; people shots … it’s a vast collection.”
For VideoBlocks users, this not only adds additional content to the library of more than 100,000 stock Full HD and 4K videos available and more than 800,000 user-submitted content in the Marketplace, but high-quality footage — shot on pro equipment — that’s difficult to find from a royalty-free service, or it’s expensive to license.
The Discovery deal, which taps into Discovery Communications’ (the umbrella company that owns the Discovery Channel, TLC, and Animal Planet) Discovery Access licensing arm, is part of VideoBlocks’ plan to continue to update its Marketplace, a service announced in April that allows any user to submit Full HD and 4K content for sale, at $49 and $199 each, respectively; contributors, including Discovery, keeps 100 percent of profits. The Marketplace is in addition to the yearly subscription fee of $99, which gives users unlimited use of stock content, in addition to access to Marketplace clips. And, it doesn’t matter if your video project is for personal, amateur YouTube, or commercial use, and there are no distribution restrictions.
For freelance video editors, studios on a tight budget, or amateur creatives, the addition of Discovery content opens doors to clips that normally would require a big budget commission or expensive to use through other stock video services, Holland says. Should your art film call for a romantic aerial shot of New York City, and a Great White shark (you can make your own Sharknado-inspired film), for example, you now have access to the same type of content found in Shark Week shows and others.
“It’s the first time that a YouTuber can access footage of a migration pattern, for $49 — that’s insane,” says VideoBlocks founder and CEO, Joel Holland.
But Holland says the new deal could appeal to even big-budget studios, “higher-end customers who are like, ‘whoa, we can get this really intense stuff that’s reasonably priced. We’ll see, hopefully, a nice pickup on the higher-end as well.”
The Discovery announcement is a highlight of the Marketplace’s success, Holland says. By year’s end, VideoBlocks is on track to having a million clips in the Marketplace, which includes not just those from Discovery, but high-quality content from talented cinematographers.
“It’s a testament to the fact that the production world is not just for the high-end groups, but it’s much more mainstream,” Holland says. “It’s neat to see the mass creative class — the freelancers and the hobbyists — not only submitting content to the Marketplace, but also buying it.
“If there was one concern I had, it’s that while we could find people to sell their stuff, is anybody going to buy it? We have contributors on track to earn six figures,” Holland adds.
Holland says it’s this success that first caught Discovery’s attention.
“Earlier this year they reached out to us and said, ‘We’ve heard good things about what you’re doing in this creative space. We have all this cutting room floor content that we’ve shot over the last 30 years for very popular TV shows, and it’s all great footage,’” Holland says. “But for every one hour of content that gets put into a TV show, 40 hours hit the floor. They said, ‘Hey, is there any way to monetize this?”
While a partnership seemed promising, Holland says his company was initially worried that Discovery would request a premium fee for its content, which would break VideoBlocks’ mission of “leveling the playing field.”
“The whole purpose of VideoBlocks is to offer premium creative content that everybody could afford,” Holland says. “We really want to make it fair. Discovery was okay with that, and were willing to sell their clips at a reasonable price point — pretty unheard of.”
And Discovery is just “step one,” Pittard says. For 2016, partnerships like this will become a bigger focus for the company. Ultimately, the goal is to not only offer affordable content that are 100 percent owned by their creators, but also offer content that is high quality.
“I think that’s what is appealing about this Marketplace, both for a huge company like Discovery and freelance cinematographers who have great talent and extra time, and wants an ancillary monetary stream,” Pittard says.