Contemporary problems call for contemporary solutions, and with streaming changing the way audiences consume their content and spend their money, companies around the world are looking for ways to make an impact on the VOD marketplace. One such company is trans-Atlantic startup The Fifth Wall, which participated in this year’s Zinemaldia Startup Challenge at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
The Fifth Wall’s team includes creative director Nicolás Britos in Germany, Maximiliano Monzón in Argentina and Pedro Hernández Santos, who handled the San Sebastian Q&A, in Spain.
In his online pitch, Britos spoke about how online platforms had sparked “the largest explosion of audiovisual content in history,” emphasizing that with so many players and so much content, it can be hard for a production or service to differentiate itself. The Fifth Wall was created as a tool to offer a different kind of VOD viewing.
Simply put, and Santos emphasized several times how simple it really is, the software allows viewers at home to access the mobile devices of characters in the programming they are watching. Once the app is downloaded, a user can, in real time or while the program is paused, access the emails, voicemails, photos, videos and social media profiles of the onscreen characters.
More than just a fun user interface, the software also offers up new marketing potential. For instance, if a user sees something on screen they want in their own life, The Fifth Wall allows them to seamlessly navigate to an online retailer where they can buy it. It’s a feature that The Fifth Wall’s team believes can generate significant advertising revenue streams.
It also gives producers and platforms insight into viewing habits, shopping patterns and other big data that has become among the hottest commodities in the digital audiovisual landscape.
The Fifth Wall’s own income model is two-fold, including pay-per-user and pay-per-project aspects. With the first, a VOD platform requests the company’s services, and after a financial agreement is reached with the platform, current subscribers will be able to download and sign into The Fifth Wall’s app, receiving 24/7 service, maintenance and updates, for free.
Revenue is also generated by working with content creators. In this case, production companies looking to add a new dimension to their content work directly with The Fifth Wall on integrating the service into their productions. Again, the companies get full access to Fifth Wall customer service, maintenance and updates.
As the presentation focused primarily on the economic and creative benefits offered up by the product, jurors were left wanting to know more about practical aspects of The Fifth Wall. Namely: How does it work?
Santos responded by referring to Spanish drama series “Nada,” produced by Aquí y Alli Films, which uses their software to allow viewers into the phone of its protagonist, played by Barbara Lennie, a detective with memory problems stemming from an accident which caused her brain damage. In the series, she uses her phone to document information she might need to recall later, making it a valuable resource to viewers.
“The tech is already solved, this is not the problem,” Santos said. “The problem now is giving the user different content, film or TV.”