Will Richard Branson's Virgin Group enter the video on demand - streaming media business ala Netflix, or stick with space race?; Sam Branson's Sundog Pictures may be well positioned to enter documentary streaming sector says Media Man agency

Will Richard Branson's Virgin Group enter the video on demand - streaming media business ala Netflix, or stick with space Race?; Sam Branson's Sundog Pictures may be well positioned to enter documentary steaming sector says Media Man agency

Gonzo journalism scribbles from the sidelines

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by Greg Tingle

Richard Branson and his Virgin Group empire have a strong reputation for turning ideas into reality and for being front runners in a multitude of business sectors from record companies (Virgin Records), music festivals (V Festival) and aviation (Virgin Australia... formerly known as Virgin Blue), Virgin Atlantic, gaming (Virgin Games and Virgin Casino), hotels (Virgin Hotels and Virgin Limited Edition), media (Virgin Media and the no longer Virgin Comics).

Yes, um - Dr Yes (Virgin insider term). Not everything Mr Branson turns to gold, and he's the first to admit it. No longer is their a Virgin Comics or the ill fated Virgin Cola. Back to positives, Virgin Trains is still a goer. And, Virgin Galactic is back on track by all accounts.

Why are we even covering the company going-ons again now? Well, they have enjoyed a bit of a love - hate relationship with news media over the decades. Branson is somewhat the free publicity king however other than the recent coverage concerning the hurricane that hit a number of his island properties he's been relatively quite lately (that is by Branson's standards).

Many people frequently ask me about my opinion about what's happening at the Virgin Group, which is fair enough as we have done business with them a number of times over the past decade, including on some pretty high profile campaigns.

At present it would be fair to say that Virgin has a major push on their Virgin Galactic brand, the space travel company.

I for one believe that Virgin powers that be are watching the movie streaming - video on demand space very closely. To my mind, Virgin would have a good shot at making a successful splash into this exiting realm.

Virgin has more than dabbled in media and entertainment over the years. Hello Virgin Media, Virgin Records (music), Virgin Radio, Virgin Comics and Virgin Broadband, which has a connection with Virgin TV... I know what you're thinking now - Virgin already have a streaming media service. Ok, its basic, and not known or promoted globally. It has a client base in the UK and have received mixed reviews over the years. It's not a global brand or offering, and we're hearing that its definitely got global potential, but for whatever reason or reasons hasn't even got close to the potential. With the global streaming media shake ups ala News Corp - 21st Century Fox - Netflix and Disney (including Marvel movies and tele shows streamed online), it might be timely for Virgin TV and other Virgin content creators to throw their hat into the area and make a global play. The channel could also certainly do some cross promotions too, whether it be for Virgin Mobile, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Atlantic or Virgin whatever...

What much of the general public does not know is that Richard's son, Sam, is a successful film and documentary maker, who has been pumping out quality productions for a couple of years now. Could Branson Jr be eyeing off the video streaming sector himself? Granted, his is still building up a portfolio of content, but they again, there's also a number of productions that Virgin have financed which under the right conditions could be used under a brand such as Virgin Streaming, or whatever title they wanted to go by. This could be akin to what Vince McMahon's WWE (once World Wide Wrestling Federation) have done with the WWE Network. Showcase the footage from over the decades, as well as add new titles and charge a monthly subscription rate. With Virgin Streaming, or whatever name they ran it under, they cloud also potentially stream music, music videos and music documentaries, and first cab off the rank on that front could be the likes of compelling content from The Rolling Stones - long time friends and associates of Branson's. Then there's the music innovator Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells) and who can forget The Sex Pistols, Culture Club and The Human League. If you want to get right into Virgin's music history you also have to research the Virgin EMI and BGM history, but back on point, we're covering the potential of Virgin Streaming, not the history of Virgin Records.

Folks, let's just put it out there via the internet - if Virgin powers that be do decide to ramp things up on the streaming - namely streaming video side of things, especially down under in Australia, we are pretty keen of getting officially on board. Yep, we're worked with the Big V on an official basis on a number of projects, and for me a Virgin streaming product campaign would be ideal.

The Media Man group is very happy with what we've done in the streaming video sector with the likes of Netflix, WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass, to name but a few, but the prospect of what Virgin could achieve on the steaming side of things excites us.

Steaming media fans would have also seen or heard about the upcoming part defection of Disney (owner of Marvel Entertainment) away from Netflix, with the end game of Disney having their own customer streaming media service. They are also tipped to have a sports offering based on their own ESPN (including SportsCentre) brand. This may also be a great platform for the famed ESPN 30 by 30 sports documentaries, noted for the soon to be award winning 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair special. Just to be clear, some Marvel themed television series will still be offered via Netflix, at least for the foreseeable future, however that may change as the Disney business model continues to evolve, especially on the consumer video streaming arm of the operation. Disney Go has been tipped to be the name of the streaming portal, but that's not set in stone. The Disney owned ESPN sports programming channel title is not known as present. The general trend with major content owners is to own and operate their own streaming media channel, and this is a much more complex and lucrative offering than just offering up a few shows on YouTube, YouTube Red, YouTube movies, and you get the idea. We love YouTube, just as much as most, but if your a major content owner and creator it makes a lot of sense to retain ownership, thus having the best change to moneytise the content and get the bulk of consumers entertainment dollar, primarily via the subscription model. Even media mogul Rupert Murdoch (News Corp Australia and 21st Century FOX - at time of publication), continues to proclaim "Content is king". Murdoch and his major executives are understood to be considering a sale to Disney, owner of Marvel, at time of publication. See how fast things are evolving in the content - publishing - broadcasting sector.

We're going to give Sam Branson the nod for 'Environmentalist Of The Month', as his environmental work and coverage under his Sundog Pictures outfit is outstanding these days, despite a bit of a rough start that some patches of the media industry gave him a bit of a rough time on. Most start-ups undergo some teething problems in the early stages, and Branson Jr.

the same fate. It's history now, but we are acknowledging it here just in case any wise guys or wise girls want to hold us up on it ok.

We trust you enjoyed our modest gonzo journalism style scribbles about the Virgin Group, and the potential of what could be re Virgin Streaming.

The Media Man group is always on the lookout for new and existing trends that equal good business, so it just made a whole lot of sense to cover our old friends over at the Big V.

Branson tip for us all:

“Try and keep bureaucracy to a minimum and remind your team that business as well as life, should be fun” – Sir Richard Branson


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