A year after Sony sold a majority stake in its Crackle video service to the company behind Chicken Soup For The Soul, things are looking up.

Crackle had struggled to find its place in a world increasingly dominated by YouTube and Netflix.

But the sale to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which produces entertainment with “kindness” and “the best of the human spirit”, is helping it carve out a niche as a platform for “positive” content.

That’s the message Crackle Plus president Philippe Guelton took to this year’s NewFronts, a showcase where publishers tout their upcoming roster of programming for advertisers’ interest.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, he describes how the platform is moving to offer viewer-first advertising experiences and enhanced distribution for its Crackle Plus, the group which now includes Crackle, Popcornflix, Pivotshare and Truli.

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Posted by Crackle on Monday, June 22, 2020

Interactive engagement

The company announced a new ad format offering, FreeView, powered by true[X], which rewards viewers for engaging with an interactive TV ad by showing no further commercials.

“Already in AVOD, services have probably half the ad load of traditional linear television,” Guelton says. “We offer between seven-and-a-half minutes for registered users to up to 10 minutes max for unregistered users of minutes per hour of advertising – versus at least 15 plus on linear TV.

“But we want to go farther than that. It’s an opportunity for brands to basically sponsor a film, a series, a show, and give the user an ad-free experience.”

FreeView is available in Crackle original and exclusive series.

Uplifting content

Aiming to “reintroduce” the platform to advertisers, Guelton announced 200 hours of originals and exclusive content, “putting us on a slightly different path”.

“(Chicken Soup’s) CEO and owner of the company, Bill Rouhana, brought the brand to the video world a couple of years ago by first creating a number of TV series, TV shows, on CW, on A&E, on different platforms, including Netflix, and bringing that, I would say, positive storytelling to the video format from the print form,” Guelton says.

“This kind of (positive) content, together with very inspiring documentaries and docuseries has become really a new way for us to interact with our audience. It’s trying to bring the DNA of Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

AVOD expansion

Those ads can be seen by a wider audience, nevertheless. At the NewFronts, Crackle announced Crackle Plus would also now be available via Plex, Xfinity Flex and FuboTV, aiming to add 10 new distribution endpoints over the next year.

“A recent study uncovered 33 million additional untapped customers who have indicated interest in using Crackle,” Guelton said in an announcement. “We want to make it as easy as possible for these new viewers to find us.”

For Guelton, it’s part of the increasing scale which ad-supported OTT TV services can offer. Whilst many such services rely on library and long-tail content, Crackle Plus is trying to be distinctive by commissioning originals and bagging exclusives.

The sale to Chicken Soup has given Crackle access to Screen Media, whose resources include a production house, Landmark Studios, to make original content.

Shows come in documentary (Going From Broke, History of Gangster Rap, World’s Smartest Homes), sports (Road to Raceday, Anything is Possible, Sports Confidential), scripted (Spides, Safehaven, Flagrant) and film (Grand Isle, Corporate Animals and more). Talent includes Nicholas Cage and Demi Moore.