OnWAX Media Holdings Corp. (WAX), a newly launched action sports content distribution company rising from the ashes of a shattered distribution world, is rolling out its new streaming video service today. It’s digital offering, OnWAX.com, is launching with over 100 films focused on surf, snowboard, ski, skate, mountain bike, motocross, climbing, and more.
The company was created by the culmination of numerous other companies including VAS, Koastal Media, , and Studio 411 and will distribute packaged media to over 6,000 retailers, but its true focus is on digital content distributed via the Internet, with $7.95 monthly memberships and $119.95 annual memberships.
We had the chance to catch up with WAX CEO Andrew Tow, who boasts over 30 years of experience in the media industry, yesterday prior to today’s launch to learn more about his business model, focus on service, and lessons learned from the exodus away from VAS.
Congratulations on rolling out WAX. What was the impetus for launching this new distribution company and what does it add for producers, brands, and athletes?
Andrew Tow: The impetus behind WAX was to create a one-stop shop for filmmakers of premium content in the youth lifestyle, action and outdoor sports genres, giving them distribution opportunities across the broadest and most relevant platforms so they can maximize revenues from their content. That’s our reason for being – serve the content creators by excelling in distribution in all forms. By “premium content”, I mean content for which consumers will pay in its release window, whether in a theatre, on DVD or BluRay, cable/satellite VOD, or digitally. We don’t focus on user generated or shorter form content other than to promote our premium services. On the digital front, WAX has expertise in creating platforms that serve up the best films in those genres directly to enthusiasts, with the long term goal of delivering across all content distribution platforms so that people can watch what they want, when they want and where and how they want it.
The first of those is OnWAX.com which is the proprietary, state of the art streaming service developed by WAX that launches today. OnWAX.com was created to enable our target audience to watch films of interest to them in HD quality on any screen, and at the same time provide a secure distribution streaming platform for filmmakers through the latest digital rights management and anti-piracy software. The reality is that media consumption is increasing steadily. We aim to serve that ever-hungry audience looking for new ways to find the content they love. Media viewership is spreading out over different forms of media, all of which are areas of focus for WAX. Some people will always want to have and hold packaged media such as DVDs. Others want to watch on their television or through digital download, and youth in particular like to watch via streaming technology.
WAX Media’s goal was to anticipate and satisfy demand in all of these areas. For producers what it means is that they can come to WAX for all their distribution needs on a global basis. OnWAX.com is globally enabled, with geo-blocking ability, so its reach is potentially to people who are hungry for action and outdoor sports media, but don’t have the same retail or media environment that exists in places like the US. We see OnWAX.com as a potential exposure and development platform for great filmmakers in the space, much as HBO did for television show producers whose content pushed the envelope. For brands, working with WAX is a way to get their films out into the marketplace, and at the same time make some revenue. Even if revenue is not the goal, brands will still benefit from maximized exposure across a variety of platforms. For athletes, having content that features them is another way to get exposed to a growing digital audience. We also plan to integrate producers, brands and athletes into our social media activities where they desire it, again increasing exposure. At the end of the day producers want their films to be exposed and seen, brands want people to see their content and sponsored athletes, and athletes want to inspire others. We know that we can help with all that.
Can you give me a brief history of the company and the key individuals behind it?
WAX Media is the result of 10 key companies in distribution, content library management, and production, including VAS Entertainment, Koastal Media, and Studio 411, coming together under one name. As a result WAX owns distribution rights to the largest library of best-in-class, full length action, outdoor sports and youth lifestyle feature films. The WAX management team is comprised of media industry veterans with well over 100 years of collective executive experience, including award-winning producers, passionate film buffs, and outdoor and action sports enthusiasts. This, combined with more than 20 years of accumulated heritage in, and service to, the industry, makes WAX the best partner for filmmakers and global media enterprises seeking quality content. WAX is based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA, Los Angeles and New York, NY. The company is led by myself (Andrew Tow) — I have 30 years of experience in the media industry and am supported by a talented team of experts in media distribution, consumer products, brand launches, and operations.
Here’s a quick look at how onWax.com works as well as the titles it offers:
What did you see lacking in the action sports video distribution world and how will WAX meet those needs?
As is natural in rapidly evolving industries, (video) distribution was becoming fragmented. Having one company provide DVD distribution, another provide digital distribution, another provide TV syndication, another VOD distribution, and another trying to find a streaming solution is cumbersome and ultimately results in inefficiencies. It just takes longer to deal with more people. WAX is committed to being the expert in each of these areas. Also lacking was a dedicated, specific streaming solution for the action and outdoor sports filmmakers. By focusing on these areas WAX will be able to build the destination that enthusiasts know will have the best, most relevant content for their tastes. WAX Media’s goal is to be THE brand for premium content in the action and outdoor sports genres.
The digital distribution looks solid. How will you be marketing the site to get people coming to onwax.com?
We have an extremely experienced team working on marketing OnWAX.com. Obviously marketing any new product or business takes time, resource and expenditure, but we are confident that we can do it efficiently. For example, we are working with Fuse Marketing who have a lot of experience in youth marketing and PR, and also Girlilla who are one of the leading social media agencies in the country. We also have engaged the services of Mark Fewell to act as CMO. Mark has over 20 years of experience in action and outdoor sports and youth lifestyle businesses and event journalism (and was previously voted by Brandweek as one of the top 10 Next Generation Marketers). We will be working initially with PR and social media outreach, and then integration with filmmaker and brand partners. We have already run some subtly branded ads in the Hurley Pro webcast which had great reach and were well received. We regularly work with retail partners on movie launches, such as the various regional premieres for Lost Atlas. Over time, marketing will be expanded internationally and through different mediums, but the reality is that we live in the digital world; OnWAX.com is a digital product and we feel that that’s where our audience will ultimately migrate over time as technology evolves. We also intend to support our other distribution platforms, retail partners and filmmaker partners through our media efforts. We intend to work with the leading online portals in the relevant spaces. There are also opportunities for cross platform promotions, which again is something no other distributor can offer.
Will you guys mainly be focused on physical DVDs? How much of the market do you see that encompassing with platforms like iTunes and onwax.com gaining market share?
No, we won’t be focused on DVDs – though DVD is still a very important part of our business. Any company that focuses only on DVD is flawed by design. There will always customers who want DVDs, but the media industry statistics show that media consumption is changing in favor of the digital landscape. Our job is to have WAX content present everywhere because, at the end of the day, the consumers will tell us how and where they want to purchase premium media. WAX’s mission is to enable filmmakers to take advantage of these changes, not to fear them.
I heard a fair bit of buzz at The Meeting that is basically VAS 2.0. Is that a fair description?
Not at all. The parent company of OnWAX.com is WAX Media, which has acquired 10 strategic businesses, among them is VAS Entertainment. New platforms have been added that VAS Entertainment did not have, such as television Video-on-Demand and now OnWAX.com. It is a completely evolved business. The name VAS survived during the roll-up simply because it was the first to be acquired, not because it is the most significant or relevant. We simply bided our time until the roll-up was complete, entirely new management in place, additional assets brought into the company, and OnWAX.com ready to launch. In addition, we plan to make other significant announcements about additional media platform distribution for our producers and brands within the month. In short, WAX has little to do with VAS, other than the legacy DVD business that has been streamlined, improved, and put in stable management hands.
There was a huge exodus away from VAS in the snow world this year. From your standpoint, why did that take place?
The reality is that mergers and acquisition roll-ups go through challenges. Integration takes time and expertise, yet it ultimately resulted in a well-run, strategically sound business. That integration work is now virtually complete, and WAX Media is on excellent footing with bright prospects. Besides, we still have over 30 new snow titles being released this season, including doing DVD distribution for Art of Flight, arguably the biggest snow film of the year. There may be other snow DVD distribution businesses, but that’s just one portion of our business, and in many ways we see competition as a good thing because it highlights that these areas are legitimate. In the end, filmmakers themselves will decide what breadth of distribution they want, what level of business experience they need, and who they want to work with. We believe that producers of high quality, premium content will absolutely want to do business with WAX, and competition sometimes creates more awareness. What we believe sets WAX apart, is the experience behind the company, its library of assets, and the experience of its management team.
How will WAX improve its customer service and results for customers?
A good question, because we have two kinds of customers: producers of content and consumers of content. Our mission is to super-serve both. We think that providing breadth of platform distribution will serve both kinds of customers. For consumers who become members of OnWAX.com we will carefully monitor what content is most consumed, and seek to deliver more of that type, in addition to pushing new boundaries. We will also have a VIP membership program that will deliver additional benefits such as early screenings, special promotions like attending premiers, and partner discount offers. Over time, we hope to create a passionate group of action and outdoor sports enthusiasts who know that WAX delivers what they want.
Here’s more on Andrew Tow and the official release:
Andrew Tow Bio
Andrew Tow has worked in the media industry for over 30 years – 13 of those years were spent at Century Communications Corp., during which he served as member of the Board of Directors, and as well as Chairman of the Cable Television Division, where Tow managed 70 cable television systems and eight radio stations. Under his leadership, these businesses generated over $650 million in annual revenue and maintained operating margins at the top of the industry. While at Century, Tow co-founded and served as Chairman of XYZ Entertainment Pty LTD. ("XYZ"), a highly successful Australian joint venture whose formation he negotiated with News Corp., Liberty Global, and Telstra. Under Tow's direction, XYZ launched six channels and formed a joint venture with Viacom for the creation of Nickelodeon Australia.
Tow has extensive knowledge of evolving media technology platforms and content creation and distribution, as well as longstanding relationships with leading media and telecommunications companies. Tow is the founder of Global Media Ventures, as well as a partner in media enterprises with specific demographic and interest focus. Now, Tow focuses his efforts on opportunities in television, mobile, and broadband related industries, creating cross media platforms for developing linear and on-demand media distribution, broadband and mobile portals, streaming technologies, and other traditional media platforms. He has negotiated and established VOD services and linear channels successfully in the US and international territories.
WAX LAUNCHES INNOVATIVE VIDEO STREAMING PLATFORM DEDICATED TO ACTION AND OUTDOOR SPORTS FILM ENTHUSIASTS
Largest Library of Digital Action and Outdoor Sports Films
Now Available in Streaming HD Quality via OnWAX.com
LOS ANGELES – October 4, 2011 — OnWAX Media Holdings Corp. (WAX), today announced the launch of its new streaming video service for the action and outdoor sports audience. OnWAX.com provides action and outdoor sports enthusiasts with access to over one hundred premium films from anywhere in the world where there is a high speed internet connection. Films cover several genres including surf, snowboard, ski, skateboard, mountain bike, motocross, climbing, and more. There is no third party advertising that interrupt film viewing.
“We believe in championing innovation and exposing the best films and filmmakers in this genre to the most people possible,” said WAX CEO, Andrew Tow. “OnWAX.com will enable someone who is passionate about the action or outdoor sports lifestyle to experience it, even if they are somewhere in the world that doesn’t normally enable them to get close to it, for a reasonable price. All they need is a computer or internet enabled television, and a high-speed internet connection.”
WAX has the most extensive library of premium action and outdoor sports films and will power OnWAX.com with this ever-expanding catalog which includes titles previously available only on DVD. WAX is a culmination of 11 premier action and outdoor sports media companies and libraries including VAS Entertainment, Koastal Media Distribution and Studio 411. WAX works with some of the top filmmakers and producers in the action and outdoor sports industry, including Teton Gravity Research, Standard Films, Freeride Entertainment, and Kai Neville Studios among others.
“The launch reflects a new era in action sports video content,” said Tow. “The athletes featured in the films and the filmmakers are at the forefront of their sports, and there was a need for a secure, digital platform to support them.”
The video streaming technology of OnWAX.com is supported by Silverlight, the highest-quality, most reliable platform developed by Microsoft for delivering protected media experiences. It delivers an optimized, enhanced high-definition (HD) video experience for viewers, with powerful online security to prevent intellectual property theft.
“The digital landscape is ever-evolving, as is the way people consume media, which makes it crucial that we as filmmakers are addressing this and that our work is accessible on the right platforms,” said Mike Hatchett, owner of Standard Films. “WAX is filling a need for both consumers and filmmakers, by providing an unprecedented video catalog, as well as much needed intellectual property protection.”
Members of OnWAX.com have a choice of watching films by renting one at a time, or unlimited access with a monthly membership fee of $7.95. There is also an annual VIP membership for $119.95 that provides special benefits and access to promotions, film launches and money-can’t-buy experiences. For more information, visit OnWAX.com.
OnWAX Media Holding Corp. (WAX) is the leading distributor of action and outdoor sports films, across the broadest and most advanced platforms available to the genre. WAX distributes packaged media to over 6,000 retailers; holds contracts to air films across a variety of digital platforms; provides television video-on-demand content; and owns a proprietary, secure and innovative direct-to-consumer streaming platform at OnWAX.com
The company’s mission is to deliver the largest library of best-in-class action and outdoor sports films to a global audience. WAX represents the interests of some of the most influential filmmakers and recognizable brands by maximizing value via comprehensive multi-platform rights exploitation.
WAX maintains the largest and most awarded collection of film content in the genre.
The WAX team comprises broadcast media executives, award winning producers, distribution experts, and passionate participants in the action and outdoor sports lifestyle. WAX is headquartered in Cardiff-By-The-Sea, CA. For more information, visit OnWAXMedia.com or connect via Facebook.com/onWAXMedia, LinkedIn.com/company/onwax-media or Twitter.com/onWAXMedia.