(Additional reporting by Pearl Lee)
Have you ever faced rejection? It hurts, and sometimes you feel its sting for years.
A decade ago, when the first iPhone was launched and there was an explosion of mobile videos, Titan Young Yoon had a vision: to build an ecosystem that distributes and protects such content. But like a lot of dreamers, he encountered opposition to his ideas. “A lot of people said it’s not possible… [it] cannot be made, and it cannot be successful,” he shares.
At that time, the boom meant that understanding the new technology and content protection issues was an urgent concern. But Young says not enough Korean technicians understood what content protection was and knew how to build a content platform. Players in the content business and venture capitalists also discouraged Young from building his company.
Young is now the CEO and founder of Titan Platform, a smart content and device company based in Korea with a focus on intellectual property protection. It has 1.5 million registered subscribers in its home country.
“The past six years was just about proving to people that it’s possible,” notes Young.
Information protection was the spark
Setting up Titan Platform was hardly a smooth ride, especially in Korea. But eventually, Young says he found better luck appealing to stakeholders in US, China, and Southeast Asia. “They understood the key value chain of the company and Titan Platform’s content paradigm.”
While it’s a good thing that the gap between revenue gained from legitimate streaming services and lost to piracy is widening, content protection still remains a sore point among creators.
According to Digital TV Research, TV and movie online piracy will continue to soar and is estimated to result in lost revenue worth US$51.6 billion in the next five years. With 18 years of experience in the information protection industry, Young sees opportunities in this area.
He admits, however, that building a whole ecosystem from scratch – not just a product – with technology that was not available in the market wasn’t an easy feat.
Titan Play, the company’s mobile app, allows content creators to simply upload their material as is. The platform will then automatically transcode it using the Titan Content Identifier (TCI) Encryption. And because Titan Play is cloud-based, content uploaded and published on the app will be much more difficult to copy and reproduce elsewhere.
Young’s team considers the app a success in terms of intellectual property protection.
“We have fitness and beauty channels, and a few cosmetic experts as well. Since it’s TCI-based, the videos have never been shared to YouTube,” explains Young.
The secret feature
One glaring issue that Young saw in the market was how content that creators wanted to upload and share only on YouTube or Facebook end up being available on other channels without their permission.
This led to the creation of a “secret” feature on Titan Play that allows creators to keep their content exclusive to the app and is designed to let content expire within a set time limit.
But it wasn’t just entertainment-related content that Young had in mind. “You can also share company-specific documents and videos, or share content with a specific group of people,” he says.
According to Young, the most memorable use of this secret feature was by an indie director from CineHub, an online platform for aspiring Korean and foreign filmmakers. The moviemaker wanted to share some behind-the-scenes footage from his work with his patrons without worrying about spoilers.
“He made a secret channel in Korea, invited his fans into the channel, and shared teasers and behind the scene clips. He used his fans to evangelize the movie,” shares Young.
He adds, “The indie movie director was able to save on marketing costs and worked with the most effective people who could help him.”
Creators need an income
Consumers appreciate high-quality content – and they’re also willing to pay. In China, more than 40 percent of users have paid for online videos and 25.5 percent of those who haven’t paid before are willing to fork out money for good content.
Consumers are also more willing to open their wallets on a platform that offers a huge library of good content instead of than just individual selections. Some prominent providers include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and Marvel Comics.
While there’s no denying there may be growing competition from both Western and Asian brands with similar models such as Line, Google, and Amazon, Young says that Titan Play stands out from the rest because it has low barriers to entry, provides monetization opportunities, and can protect content.
For one, creators don’t need as many subscribers or views on Titan Play before they become “partners”, which means they can monetize more quickly. In comparison, to apply as a partner on Youtube, creators need 10,000 channel views. “Creators shouldn’t be waiting around to be chosen by the service provider,” Young says.
With two different revenue-share business models on Titan Play, creators can either profit from advertisements or transactions per view. Users can watch content for free after seeing an ad, after which the total revenue generated from the advertisement views will be shared with creators. If not, creators can set a price on their content and users can pay to view.
In fact, Titan Platform supports all types of content: movies, music, webtoons, and ebooks. They even have a division entirely devoted to original content. “In the studios, we have a production planning division, directors, cameramen, and writers.”
Power to the people
Young is a fan of Korean movies and is particularly fond of “The Classic,” a romantic melodrama about a lifetime of unrequited love.
Young says he was inspired by the message of the film, which he believes is about never giving up on love. “Wait for each other, and trust each other to the end,” he shares.
It’s safe to say this message helped to shape Young and Titan Platform to what it is today.
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