Political news show The Young Turks is planning to expand availability of its network of programming to Roku today.
The move happens just weeks before The Young Turks Network’s (TYT Network) main show stops airing on cable channel Current TV, which was purchased by Al Jazeera back in January. The channel’s new owners have opted not to keep The Young Turks on the network due to it being political commentary rather than reporting/analysis. That said, if you’re looking for examples of how media companies survive in a post-cable TV market, The Young Turks is definitely one to keep your eye on.
“The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and the Roku app is going to help us gain more traction outside of [our success] on cable and YouTube,” The Young Turks chief operating officer Steve Oh said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Just look at what’s happening with Chromecast. Google recognizes the value in web video and it wants to help push it to your television screen.”
The Roku app will feature much of the same content that’s already freely available on The Young Turks’ YouTube channel, which has over 1.3 million subscribers and generates 50 million monthly views. The network is also among the few channels to generate more than 1 billion views since launching on YouTube, too. Yet since there isn’t a YouTube channel on Roku, the new app should fix that.
The Roku app is also a response to a growing number of digital video networks that can’t produce enough revenue from YouTube alone. TYT Network is part of YouTube’s paid subscription program, which allows channel owners to charge a monthly fee to access additional content. Oh told me that the network’s paid subscriptions are currently under 1,000, which he attributes to people not used to the idea of paying for access to YouTube content. However, those low numbers could also be attributed to TYT Network offering a paid subscription via its own website.
Oh said making TYT Network available on Roku is the first part of the network’s strategy to continue its growth regardless of where people are watching its programming. The basic idea is to figure out a way to monetize its programming from multiple distribution channels rather than relying on one or two big channels (such as YouTube or cable television). The network is also planning to launch native apps for iOS and Android in the near future and is speaking with other media platforms about expanding its programming.
“We’re talking with Intel Media about offering our programming through a bundle,” Oh said, adding that it’s still fleshing out a programming deal. “The Xbox is also a main priority for us,” he said. The network is in talks with Microsoft, he said, about possibly developing some original programming for Xbox Live users.