Okko is an online cinema with the largest media library in Russia. “Snob” spoke with Gavriil Gordeev, Okko’s original content producer, about the success of Chikatilo, the market situation, the impact on the audience and the recipe for creating a hit
Imagine that you need to explain the Okko business model to an alien.
If you, an alien, want to see something about us people, here’s a subscription to Okko for a month. Look, you will learn everything about the Earth and about people, because Okko has the largest content library. If you like it, find an earth card and renew your subscription! If he wants to buy us as a business, I won’t explain anything to him, everything.
But still, if you bought, what would you say?
Dear alien, we on planet Earth cannot live without emotions, without love, without a good mood, without adventures. We are constantly looking for ways to concentrate on receiving emotions. Movies and series are addictive precisely because they give us emotions. This is our source of inspiration and mood.
Emotions are important to business. We buy this or that product in certain emotions, in a certain mood we begin to connect with this or that brand and form our consumer relations. That is why online cinema is becoming an ecosystem business all over the world. Amazon Prime Video as the closest example to us in terms of business.
I say all this to an alien as a creative person. The CFO or CEO would meet the alien with different, more specific arguments and clear KPIs.
How do you choose what to invest in when producing exclusive content?
The answer is very simple and very complex at the same time. Content is a work of art that we must convey to the viewer. The success of content is determined by the viewer. That’s why I ask all producers to always think about the audience. Of course, the creative expression of each creator must come from the heart, but it must still answer certain questions that the audience has. The more these questions hit a common nerve and cover a different spectrum of emotions, the more successful the project that answers them.
If I watch a comedy, then I watch it at the moment when I want to laugh, I want a good mood. But if suddenly this comedy, in addition to just making me laugh, also gave at least a little bit of semantic things, I didn’t watch it in vain. That is, the viewer gets pleasure with benefit.
Makar Kozhukhov, Premier: Online cinemas are new libraries
They better understand something about themselves.
Yes. For example, the film “Dad” closed the gestalt about my relationship with my father. Each kid has his own cockroaches in his relationship with his father and his own understatement – and there is no one to talk to about this topic.
Another example is Cheburashka. On the one hand, there is nowhere to take the children, there are not so many films for children. But the miracle happens at the moment when you, as an adult, also enjoy it. The secret of a hit is to unite several generations.
In simple terms, to create successful content, you need to produce something that will potentially cling to several generations. At one time, Fizruk became the most mentioned series, because it hooked all generations, connected the Russia of the iPhone and the Russia of chanson. There is a target audience, for example, from 12 to 50, there is a core from 25 to 34 – the most active, most solvent, most generating information wave audience. It seems that for this audience you have to try, but it is very important not to lock yourself into it. It does not close all the interests of all generations of the country.
Each group has certain secrets. For example, the 35-45 segment of viewers will never say they are in the 35-45 segment. I am 40 – and we always think that we are still young. I do not want to be communicated with me as with a forty-year-old – I am 27! And 10 years ago I said that I was 17. At the same time, if suddenly somewhere there is a line about kindergartens, the difficulties of a large family and a mortgage, of course, this will hook me. This is not a theme that will hook an audience of 25-35 years old, but it would be nice to weave it for an older audience. We need to connect generations.
And the tools are different. A story doesn’t always have to be sweet and melodramatic. Sometimes provocativeness is also important. How provocative the name and theme of the series “Chikatilo”! This pissed off a huge number of people – the project itself had not yet appeared, but had already become an irritant. For what? What is this? How is it possible to shoot about him?!
It happens that analytics during the test shows certain aspects, which mean that the series will not become a hit. We always test the first series on a good sample with detailed research. It happens that they also show that the series potentially does not enter.
Thanks to Gosha, by the way, “1703” hits the female audience. Again – Priluchny, this is a phenomenon! How much the female audience loves Pasha Priluchny! This is our Tom Hardy. I hope he doesn’t read this interview and doesn’t get offended that I compare him to an average actor. Of course, Pasha is better than Tom Hardy!
How do you measure efficiency?
We’re looking at engagement. We have an internal KPI for unique viewers. As part of the unique viewers of a series or film, we study: how many of them are new, and how many of those who have already been. Series with dramatic detective stories work for attraction, and what is already in the service, for example, comedy genres, works for retention. It is clear that both are important.
For dialogue with producers and productions, we look at the reason for the conversion to a subscription. For example, a person came specifically to watch one series, but extended the subscription because he was interested in another product. The decision to subscribe often happens emotionally: I watched three films in one service, started a series there – and signed up. There was trust in the brand and trust in the content.
What is your favorite TV show from your competitors?
The only series that I watched out of spectator interest, and not because I need to see what competitors are doing, is the second season of Territory. This is about my native Perm, plus this year is also the tercentenary of Perm. But I actually watched The Territory for a different reason: I really needed to know what was next – after the first season.
Here it is important to convey to the audience that even if something annoys them, then you need to figure out why. A person comes through a provocation, watches the first episode on edge and suddenly realizes that this is not a provocation, but a work of art with its serious, powerful drama, tragedy, the helplessness of the police, which faced incredible evil … There is no justifying rhetoric of a maniac. This is aerobatics: after the first episode, the hater becomes a loyal audience.
Chikatilo is the only series in Russia that, without appearing on the air, falls into the ratings of the Kinopoisk PRO Index. Most often, series from television get there, whose wide audience recognized the name of the series and searched for it.
Was the Chikatilo promotion strategy planned in advance?
I started working at Okko in the marketing department. I haven’t seen any strategy statement. We don’t have time to experiment right now. We are already in an active market. All of us in the Okko team are quite creative, creative, high, professional and in a relaxed mode we can try this, or we can try that, maybe podcasts, maybe shows, maybe something else …
Now we need to use all our skills to create a 100% hit. We have opportunities and an incredibly powerful team. We need all the skills that Eli Dmitrievskaya, Seryoga Kostrov, and Tema Sargsyan have. I specifically name people who are the backbone of content, marketing and PR at Okko. I’m not talking about the product team and developers. Let’s show what we are capable of and minimize errors.
Our bet is serials. We clearly understand how many episodes they should have, what timing should be. Of course, there is a producer’s feel, but it will be incredibly valuable if backed up by analytics. Fortunately, we have a huge amount of data, but at the same time we do not decide only on numbers, but use them to make a creative decision.
For example, we are releasing Volunteer Playlist, a series directed by Maxim Sveshnikov. It would seem that the topic of volunteering is narrow. But search volunteers are now a broad movement. Each of our team has friends from there, or we ourselves take part in it. What fascinates me the most is how clean you have to be to go looking for someone just like that, without a paycheck. This theme is explored in the series.
Were there situations when the forecasts said one thing, and the chuyka said something else?
This often happens, but it is also a tool. For example, “1703” is the best series of the last year, all critics appreciated it, the industry appreciated it, one of our hits, but it falls short of “Chikatilo” because it is not so wide. Genre – noir, black comedy, plus a surreal storyline narrows the audience. But there is humor, there is Gosha Kutsenko, there is a detective story, there is a conflict of generations – and these things potentially catch a wide audience.
Next comes marketing. It is necessary to show that the series is for a wide audience. The risk, however, is that if we sell it to too wide an audience, there will be many dissatisfied. This means that only those who will definitely be satisfied should be called, so as not to spoil the relationship of the viewer to the Okko brand. This is talentedly done by our marketers under the guidance of Seryoga Kostrov.
Is there an episode from a series or movie that can describe what is happening in the online cinema market?
There is one scene from “South Park” … What is happening in the market now is actually a natural process. But it is influenced by a lot of factors: on the one hand, the situation with the majors, on the other, a more active bet on domestic Russian content. The quality must be at the highest level, otherwise the viewer will turn away from the online cinema and from domestic content in general.
I think that for TV the main reason for the loss of the audience is precisely this, that they think that it will work anyway, but it does not work. That’s why I say that I have no opportunity to experiment now. We have experimented a lot in our lives, and now is the time to do something that the audience will enjoy. We are not just shaping the market, we are shaping relationships with the audience, we are influencing how the attitude of Russians to domestic films and series is shaped.
Do you feel responsible?
And I enjoy it. It seems that we will be able to withdraw this responsibility: we have a lot of talented producers. The main thing is not to fall for grandmas. We were already seduced by grandmothers in the 2000s and produced a huge ton of comedy …