Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, sits down at Streaming Media West 2022 to chat with Christina Chung, VP Business Operations, Estrella Media to learn more about her organization’s content strategy and sales force operationalizations.
“So, Christina, first of all, tell me a little bit about your background in the industry,” Siglin says.
“I actually come from Ad Tech,” Chung says. “I was working at FreeWheel, which was purchased by Comcast. So I came up from the ranks of solutions engineering, working with the engineers, working with the product managers, all the way up to a technical account manager. So I was working with the sales business development teams. That was kind of like my founding in the media space. Prior to that, I was actually in investment banking, that was where my revenue side comes into play. And so now I’m in business operations over at Estrella, and kind of the combination of revenue as well as technology, put it together and that’s what you get with me.”
“It’s funny that you say that, because my background has been working with numerous startups, technical and business roles,” Siglin says. “And you find that there’s a language barrier between those two groups. So do you find yourself translating between the business side and the technical side?”
“I most certainly do,” Chung says. “And I learned that in the very beginning at my days at FreeWheel [that] you need to be able to talk it to someone who may not know what you’re talking about. One of my favorite phrases was, ‘dumb it down as if I’m a sixth grader.’ I’ve kind of taken that with me to different implementations, integrations, and even in financial speak, sometimes people don’t understand, so how do you find ways to make people understand what you’re talking about? Make it simple, make it easy to recognize and [be] relatable.”
“Don’t use a whole lot of acronyms around people who don’t have the experience,” Siglin says.
“Exactly,” Chung says. “Don’t use acronyms at all if you can avoid it.”
“So what’s Estrella Media?” Siglin asks.
“So when you say third largest producer, this is both for streaming and traditional broadcast?” Siglin asks.
“Correct,” Chung says. “Or cable. We actually produce about 6,000 hours of original content. We have a studio in Burbank, and we actually produce all that content on our own.”
Siglin wonders what Estrella’s balance is regarding the number of cable subscribers compared to their streaming audience.
“I would definitely say that our traditional linear television is much larger than our digital business,” Chung says. She says that Estrella came from a traditional radio business in the 1970s but then transitioned to television in the ‘80s. “That became a huge business,” she says. “Then, only about three or four years ago is when we really got into the digital business. My boss and I joined at the end of 2020, the beginning of 2021. And that’s when we really got the whole free ad-supported television (FAST) business, which is like online linear platforms. We got our app running…we got just easy traditional ad serving going in 2021. So it really was starting from scratch, almost like a startup with a big company.”
“Now interestingly, you’re coming into what’s a traditional broadcast business,” Siglin says, “Where they know how to serve ads for television, but you’re doing a technology that’s completely foreign to that. How does a company like that balance the two of those? Because clearly – say in the video world – you have a Class 1 engineer who understands how to do 100,000 watts of broadcast and then you’ve got this IT engineer who understands how to push packets. But when you’re talking about ads, especially if you’re doing make-goods and things like that, essentially it could be the same ad that’s going out over broadcast as well over streaming, and yet the approaches to them are different. So how does that work?”
“It’s really interesting you say that. So we definitely have very separate divisions within Estrella,” Chung says. “The radio sales team is very different from the linear sales team, which is very different from the digital sales team. So in many ways, we are very separated in these different silos. Now, that being said, we are trying to shift our entire sales team to sell more of a package, like teaching and educating our sales team that there are many different facets of our business. And we need to sell all aspects of it. And so really kind of garnering this approach that we are one cohesive sales force, versus very separated silo things. Now that being said, we will have experts forever in each field. It’s kind of like how do you operationalize a force that’s been very grounded and very segmented? It’s a lot of it is education that we need to do.”
“And is part of that too finding people within each of those three organizations who have a vision of thinking bigger than just their one division?” Siglin says.
“I think that the executive team has really put a stamp on trying to identify what is the path forward,” Chung says. “We’re all very good at our own separated business. We also recognize that in order to become bigger and better and cater more [to] our audiences, we need to be able to talk together, work together, and make it a force [than] just separated things.”
“So let’s say we’re sitting here next year and we’re having this conversation because I often do conversations with people year-on-year,” Siglin says. “What will you have hoped that Estrella would’ve been able to do to get to that goal in that say 12-month period of time?”
“I think it’s the packaging of sales,” Chung says. “I think that’s a huge opportunity that we haven’t quite gotten [to] this past year, but I’m hoping that next year, especially since our FAST television business, as well as our app business, has now become more of an established digital business. Prior to last year, it wasn’t. So I think a sales team from both radio linear are now recognizing, ‘hey, digital is now a sound platform that we should be selling on, and we can make extra revenue from it. So I think for me, [by] next year, I’m hoping I can tell you that yes, we’ve established these great packages with our sales team. We have new innovative ad solutions across different mediums, because not only do we have these linear and radio businesses, but we also have concerts, and we have social media. So we have so many different facets of the way that sales can be run. And I think it’s an opportunity to be able to sell it as one package too, whether it’s a national advertiser or a local advertiser.”
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