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GoPro Sees Future as ‘Content Company’

GoPro, the maker of small mountable cameras that have been embraced by sports enthusiasts and filmmakers, said it’s making moves to become a larger player in the entertainment industry and expand its brand beyond just hardware and more around the visuals its devices are used to producing.

“We’re a hardware company but we’re turning more into a content company,” said Adam Dornbusch, GoPro’s head of content distribution, at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit on Monday. “The camera is just the tool to get to content.”

GoPro was just one of several companies, including Microsoft’s Xbox and NFL, that said digital platforms — from mobile devices to video game consoles — are enabling them to reach consumers in new ways.

Microsoft became more aggressive in turning its Xbox console into more of an entertainment hub when 50% of the online activity on the device was used for non-gaming activities four years ago, said Michael Mott, Xbox’s general manager of applications and developer ecosystem.

That shift also prompted GoPro to create its first entertainment app on the Xbox 360 (one is also in the works for the next-generation Xbox One) after mostly posting videos on YouTube.

Because of the app, content isn’t strictly limited to a certain length.

“We don’t care how long the content is,” Dornbusch said. “If it’s 30 seconds or 18 minutes, we’re trying to elevate that content and draw attention to it. We’re trying to get our content out there as much as possible.”

San Francisco-based GoPro was encouraged to start attracting more viewers to the footage its camera’s owners are creating when it saw that a video shot on its devices get on average 640,000 views on YouTube. Over 6,000 videos uploaded to YouTube per day are also tagged GoPro, a considerable feat give how little the hardware used to make videos are mentioned.

“Most people don’t view GoPro as a media company but we’re quickly changing what media is,” Dornbusch said at the event, hosted inside Marina del Rey’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. “We’re not inventing new models. They’re coming to us.”

In addition to the Xbox, new platforms have enabled GoPro to stream its videos on airline Virgin America through a dedicated channel.

They’ve also provided GoPro with a new way to generate revenue.

It’s seeking licensing deals to partners who will to pay for content, giving GoPro a way to further monetize the 100 athletes and over 50 events it sponsors each year, while also providing the company with a way to boost the reach of the money it spends on marketing.

Through the app on Xbox, it’s also able to sell GoPro cameras, with payment collected through the user’s credit card saved on the videogame console, and sent to the address on file.

While it has yet to disclose new content partnerships, it’s already seeing a new usage of its cameras: the selfie.

“It’s the age of the video selfie,” Dornbusch said, as GoPro owners figure out ways to record themselves.

What’s helped in all this is the portability of GoPro’s cameras, which are usually found on athletes’ helmets or other gear, but also have been been mounted on lions and pelicans to provide an unusual view. “We’re seeing perspectives that you haven’t seen before and it’s more authentic than anything you could ever script,” Dornbusch said.

While all of its games are available for free on television in North America, and key to the overall brand’s success, the National Football League is readying to launch a digital streaming network, called NFL Now, across most platforms on August 1.

Similar to the WWE Network, the app will offer up an original slate of programming that will give fans the ability to delve deeper into their favorite teams or players, provide access to a library of videos, as well as expand the NFL’s reach overseas, where its games may not be as readily available.

“The NFL is trying to get more games onto screens fans are using,” said Chris Halpin, VP of media strategy and business development for the NFL. “Surfacing our content (whether its 40-seconds in length or an hour) and getting it onto the right screen at the right time is how we spend our time at the NFL.”

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