STN Video's Matthew Watson


STN Video logo
News & Tech chatted recently with STN Video CEO Matthew Watson.

STN Video is an online video platform. The company has head operational offices in Victoria, British Columbia, and an office in New York City.

Among items of interest, Watson touched on the long-anticipated media convergence that we used to hear so much about. Remember that buzzword, convergence? We’re a few buzzwords on from that now, but the concept is still very relevant.

We also had a chance to talk to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on their experience with STN Video (see story below).
Here are excerpts from our chat with Watson.
News & Tech: A recent case study was conducted with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. How is the Review-Journal using your platform?

Watson: The Review-Journal uses us for everything video on their site. So for the technical sorting and display and embedding and the player and also for the content we provide in our platform and of course the monetization we provide for them. We have robust smart match AI. That's a snippet of code that sits on a publisher site and it reviews every article that's published and uses the keywords from that to match that with the metadata in our extensive video library, and then embeds the most relevant video along with a relevant playlist into that article. We also have a very well developed what we call editors dashboard, which allows editors, digital officers or journalists to go in and sort through our library of over one million videos and search them and embed whichever video they choose or whichever playlist of videos they choose as well.

It also allows them to upload their own video content into our platform and use that on their own site, or if they choose to, they can also distribute that to other publishers on our platform and receive compensation for doing that.

The Review-Journal also uses us for live streaming. When we started out, we didn't have much money, and  the cheapest way to do it operationally was to build our platform on live streaming, so it's all built on live streaming technology. We recently live-streamed the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s coverage of the CES (Consumer Electronic Show, now known as CES. Among STN Video’s recent livestream events was the Ford F-150 Lightning product launch).

News & Tech: Any video that's very local, will that be their own shooting?

Watson: We do all the local sports there, like the Las Vegas Raiders, all the different teams that are there anything going on there in that regard, but if you see some local news or something, they're out covering that with their video team. By and large, they're using high-value production cameras. It's professionally done. They have their own studio in Las Vegas.

News & Tech: If a newspaper didn't want to necessarily invest in the most expensive equipment, as long as they can get decent quality video, even from an iPhone, they could use that too, right?

Watson: Yeah, exactly. There's obviously there's so much convergence going on, right? Like we just live-streamed the NFL draft up on our newspaper dotcoms, native digital sites, broadcast dotcoms and radio dotcoms and everything. I think that because video is so huge and the appetite for it is so great both from viewers and advertisers, that however you can get your video, so long as it's of a production quality that is satisfactory (it works).

So who would have thought that even five years ago that the Las Vegas Review-Journal or any other newspaper would be filming video themselves and have a production room. With our platform, it's so easy to do. And so more and more we're enabling whatever type of publisher to take advantage of the convergence that’s happening and become a media company, not just a newspaper dotcom or not just a print or anything. We're enabling that future for all of our publishing partners.

News & Tech: Where do you get most of your video and what are your most popular types of videos?

Watson: We are the exclusive video distribution platform for all the major leagues. So NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA tour, NASCAR, LPGA, WNBA, etc. We get it from directly from the leagues. It's official video content, and we're the only ones who can provide that online. And we also work with another 200 different content providers, for example, Conde Nast, Bloomberg, the Street, Cheddar and many, many others. And we work with our publishers for any content that they created themselves.

News & Tech: What is the most popular category of video that you have?

Watson: There's some seasonality to it, but I would say sports. The overall overarching news category like news, local news, national news, politics, etc., that's the most popular category, generally speaking. In terms of popular among viewers and advertisers, it's sports, because it's, it's brand safe, In fact, it's brand enhancing, and similar to things like lifestyle, you want contextual relevance for people as well. You want some personalization. We do a lot with our lifestyle, fitness, cooking, entertainment, business and tech, all the categories.

News & Tech: In terms of like viral video, do you have access to that content?

Watson: Oh, yes, we do. If there's anything going viral in any segment, but particularly in sports, we have all that content as well.

News & Tech: It's branded by the publisher, right? So the public doesn't necessarily know that you're behind the scenes?

Watson: No, they don't. We prefer to put our publishers first, so we don't add additional branding or anything to our players. We want them to also load as fast as possible. We've got the fastest loading player online and that helps the user experience by having the page load very quickly.

News & Tech: What can you tell me about costs and monetization?

Watson: It's better than free. Not only do publishers not pay us anything to use our great technology and content, we pay them. So we provide the content and the technology without cost to them. And we actually pay them a revenue share from our monetization of the resulting video views.

News & Tech: If publishers sell an ad, is that also a revenue share or do they get to keep all that?

They get to keep all that except a small ad service fee, assuming it's against their own content.

News & Tech: What are you doing with live stream events these days?

Watson: We just finished live-streaming the NFL Draft-a-Thon and other NFL coverage very successfully. This is the second year in a row that we've done that with the NFL. We also livestream golf tournaments. And outside of sports, we've done the CES and other business events. We have in the works to livestream some local sports very soon.

News & Tech: What tech do you have on the horizon?

Watson: Oh, so much. In addition to some real advances that we're making in ad tech and monetization, we've got technology that uses AI to develop video stories. Also technology that helps personalize the reader or viewer experience by introducing them to additional relevant content. This is building on our existing smart match technology. We’re also going to be providing hosted category sections to publishers. We did that in golf where we developed golf pages because a lot of publishers no longer covered golf unless it was a local tournament in their area. We're going to do that with sports betting as well.
• Link: Earlier this month, the company changed its name from SendtoNews to STN Video. The new name more accurately reflects the company’s evolution into a full-service online video platform offering, says the company.