Geek Speak: Shahrzad Rafati, CEO of BroadbandTV
Shahrzad Rafati says she’s passionate about helping video creators make money with their content. She’s the 32-year-old founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Corp., a Vancouver-based media and technology company.
BroadbandTV specializes in the aggregation, optimization, protection, and monetization of online video, working with clients such as Warner Bros. Entertainment and the National Basketball Association. Through its VISO brand, the company runs a network of YouTube channels, including VISO Give, a nonprofit channel that lets viewers “watch and give”.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Rafati is a University of British Columbia computer-science graduate. She started BroadbandTV in 2007.
The Georgia Straight interviewed Rafati by phone.
What does BroadbandTV do?
We help video publishers become successful online. How do we do it? We created a series of tools, systems, technologies that help publishers drive traffic to their content, increase their number of subscribers, and monetize their content—so generate revenue from their content.
How does your company turn video piracy into profit?
The story of BroadbandTV is not just about us helping larger companies with their user-uploaded, pirated content. It’s also about helping large and small publishers distribute and become more successful by managing, optimizing, and monetizing the content properly, whether it’s official copies of content or it’s user-uploaded copies of content. Because, at the end of the day, eyeballs are eyeballs. It doesn’t matter if the video was uploaded by a user or if we worked with the publisher to distribute it or the publisher distributed it on their own branded channel.
What we do is we drive traffic, subscriber base to these channels, leveraging our tools and technologies. At the same time, we help them generate revenue associated with those eyeballs by monetizing the traffic on an ad basis. So that’s the overall story.
How does VISO Give benefit charities?
VISO is actually BroadbandTV’s consumer brand. That’s how users interact with BroadbandTV. We have the VISO network, which is a group of VISO-branded channels like VISO Give and VISO Trailers and VISO Games and VISO Cinema, and co-branded channels that belong to some of the publishers we work with.
For VISO Give, the idea behind it was to watch and give at the same time. So you have a lot of young 12-to-27-year-olds that are on YouTube that are consuming video content, and they may not have the ability to donate to a specific cause that they’re passionate about. So the idea behind VISO Give was, “Hey, you don’t have to specifically donate. Just by watching videos, you’re able to give back to the community.” So, every time a video is viewed by a user, the nonprofit presented in the video benefits by receiving 100 percent of the revenues collected by BroadbandTV.
What’s one key trend in online video that you’re paying attention to?
I’m very passionate about social, mobile video. That’s basically consuming video content on mobile devices and creating a social experience around that so you can actually share that in an efficient, simple way with other users.
Let’s say someone wants to get a video out there. What are some tips you would give?
I have to say they need to understand the science and the platform where they’re deploying the content really well. When you look at a platform like YouTube, there’s 60 hours of content that gets uploaded every minute. So there’s just a lot of content out there.
You need to make sure you optimize the content—deploying proper metadata and levering every variable associated or related to that video, whether it’s the thumbnail needing to be optimized. You need to pick the most engaging frame as the thumbnail associated with a video.
If you want to do this as a real job or something that you want to make money off, you have to look at the monetization aspect and see how you can generate revenue from the videos that you’re creating. The point is leveraging the social platforms like Facebook or bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon to promote the videos to make sure you actually drive eyeballs to your content.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.