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Can GoPro Pull Off Becoming a Content Hub?

September 30th, 2016   ||    by Todd Wasserman

The content hub is the linchpin of many companies’ inbound marketing strategies, including IBM, GE, and Adobe. Can it work for GoPro, too?

Growth

The company, known for its eponymous rugged cameras often used to document action sports from a first-person point of view, is giving the idea a go. Over the past year, the company has been assembling an entertainment team with 200 or so employees. Ocean MacAdams, former MSG Networks and current TV executive, leads the content hub division, which also includes Hulu’s Charlotte Koh, former HBO exec Bill McCullough, and Time Inc.’s Joe Lynch. Koh’s title at GoPro is Head of Features and Series, a new position at the company. “It’s really about creating a GoPro content banner on top of the technology,” she told Variety.

A report in Fortune said the company planned to produce more than thirty short-form TV-style shows in 2016 and 2017. Potential titles include a music show called Off The Record, a family program called Kids Save the World, and Beyond Places, a travel show.

Gamble

GoPro’s headlong dive into becoming a content hub is unusual. Companies that produce content on a large scale are usually established behemoths like IBM, GE, or Microsoft or pure-play entertainment companies, like Netflix. Two notable exceptions are Apple and Amazon. Like GoPro, Apple creates hardware, but the company also makes software and began acting as a tech portal to the entertainment industry with the introduction of the iPod in 2001. Amazon, despite being an online retailer, has positioned its streaming video service as a value-add for subscribers of Prime, its $99-a-year service that also offers free shipping on Prime items.

In each case, the companies had a solid business operation to let them ride out the fluctuations of the content business. GoPro isn’t in the same position. The company’s Hero 4 Session camera, which was aimed at everyday users, flopped last year. Shares in the company have fallen about 70 percent since then. According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), GoPro reported a $91.8 million loss in its second quarter as revenue fell by nearly half to $220.8 million. In late September, the company launched a new camera, the Hero 5 Black, and a $799 drone called Karma, WSJ also reported. Investors will be watching those launches closely to see if they turn around the company’s fortunes.

Vision

GoPro’s move into content didn’t entirely come out of nowhere. As Business Insider explains, the company has launched branded content deals with Wimbledon and licensed its GoPro-shot videos to Royal Caribbean, Airbnb, and Google. GoPro’s YouTube page also has around 4 million subscribers.

Going forward, the content initiative includes a cloud-based service that lets users upload content that they hope to monetize. “Imagine when all of that content is managed in our cloud, and you’ve given us rights to license it and monetize it on your behalf,” GoPro CEO Nick Woodman told Variety. GoPro hopes that cloud program will give it early access to up-and-coming filmmakers who it might get to work on future productions. The vision also includes a network of correspondents a la Vice.

It’s an ambitious plan. Motley Fool columnist Leo Sun pointed out that Samsung’s Gear 360 produces 360-degree videos similar in quality to GoPro’s Omni, but at less than a tenth of the price. If GoPro’s able to pull off a pivot while its core business is being challenged, it will have managed a neat trick. If not, it will be a textbook case of corporate distraction.

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