Ficto, Free Mobile Streaming Alternative to Quibi, Launches App

Los Angeles-based Ficto, a free, ad-supported streaming service with content produced exclusively for mobile, has launched its mobile app, available on both iOS and Android.

In addition to being free, another advantage Ficto has over Quibi, the pending short-form mobile service from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman bowing April 6, is that Ficto offers interactive programming, according to CEO and co-founder Mike Esola.

“We’re doing stuff that they’re not doing, emphasizing interactivity,” he said. “If you happen to be in your 20s today, you look for things that are more than a passive experience.”

Ficto’s interactive features include live-stream, viewer geo-location, live chat, instant polling, choice-based narratives, 360 viewing, augmented reality (AR) characters and click-through e-commerce.

Ficto offers shows and series ranging from original dramas and licensed film adaptations, to comedies, docuseries, talk shows, game shows and news. The service is launching with 30 shows, averaging 5 minutes per episode, and anywhere from three to 10 episodes in a season — with an additional 20 shows already in production, and more added to the content pipeline weekly.

Ficto developed a unique technology similar to Quibi’s turnstile technology where editors retain creative choice of their series in portrait mode frame-by-frame while also having the ability to stream horizontally, according to Esola, who spent 15 years as a Hollywood talent agent.

Among the programs on the service is “Ingress: The Series by Niantic, developer of mobile AR games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. It’s a narrative show that includes episodes interwoven with the real world game. The show will allow viewers to seek out clues at real-world locations with augmented reality, according to Esola.

“Storytelling is incredibly important at Niantic and we are always looking for interesting ways to expand on the narrative of our real world mobile games,” said “Ingress: The Series” director Spencer McCall in a statement. “Ficto is creating a platform that is a perfect fit for diving deeper into the mystery of Ingress, and we’re looking forward to creating fun and interactive episodes layered into the gameplay experience which players can enjoy on their mobile devices.”

Other content includes:

  • “Represent,” a docu-series that follows the women who are ready to take the sport of surfing to the Olympic stage, even as the 2020 games experiences a rare postponement;
  • “East of La Brea,” executive produced by Paul Feig, a series that tells the untold stories of Los Angeles through the lives of two very different Muslim women from working class backgrounds;
  • “Date & Switch,” a modern dating show with live polling that lets the audience decide who the bachelor or bachelorette chooses;
  • “Brothers From the Suburbs,” a comedy series that chronicles the highs and lows of three African American teenagers coming of age in an affluent, suburban, white, private school community;
  • “Nothingman,” which follows Otis Tremmel, a selfless, community-minded man with a complicated past, is now homeless and living on L.A.’s Skid Row;
  • “Tom & Grant,” about some heartland bank robbers with a bad plan;
  • “Real Artists,” about a young animator in the near future who is offered what should be her dream job, but discovers the truth of the modern “creative” process;
  • “Hermit,” a comedic series that explores the daily life of a woman who hasn’t left her apartment in six months; and
  • “Dakota,” a musical comedy-drama feature film with an all new original soundtrack by international pop-star Phoebe Ryan, who also plays the titular character.

A full roster of available shows can be found on Ficto’s shows page.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Ficto is among the first streaming services to pay royalties, according to the company release, utilizing blockchain-based smart contracts creating “a radical new transparency payment layer for all parties involved in production.” Ficto automatically pays royalties in directly to artists based on how often their content is viewed, according to the service.

Follow us on Instagram

At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the company launched Ficto Studio, designed to work with CMOs, brand marketers, and agencies to help them design immersive brand promotions that leverage Ficto’s interactive capabilities. Ficto’s branded promotional options range from exclusive title or category sponsorship of a series, to custom augmented reality (AR), geo-location, click-to-purchase, product integration, launch events and creator collaborations. Ficto Studio’s custom sponsor programs provide comprehensive performance metrics, including viewer engagement, interactions, social sharing and listening as well as interactive polling to drive instant, two-way dialog with Ficto fans, according to the company.

Streaming Video Becoming New Normal, Especially for NFL Fans

The time people spent streaming video continues to climb — up 53% in the quarter (ended Sept. 30) as consumers embrace on-demand videos (63% of all streaming viewing is on demand) on their TVs, PCs and mobile devices, according to new data from Conviva.

“Streaming is quickly becoming the new normal,” Bill Demas, CEO of Conviva, said in a statement. “This is an industry undergoing massive growth, and what happens in the next 18 months will shape what, how and when we watch content in the future.”

Report data was primarily collected from Conviva’s proprietary sensor technology currently embedded in three billion streaming video applications, measuring in excess of a 100 billion streams per year and a trillion real-time transactions per day across more than 180 countries.

Conviva attributed the increase in streaming video consumption due in part to reduced video start failures (down 10%), 6% faster start times, 33% less buffering and the picture quality (bitrate) is 3% better.

PCs saw the most consistent quality improvements year over year with 17% fewer video start failures, 23% faster video start times and 26% less buffering. Mobile saw big improvements in reducing buffering — down 34% year over year — but video start times were only down 4% and video start failures were down only 2%.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Meanwhile, improvements in overall video quality did not extend to streaming ads. According to the data, 39.6% of all streaming ad attempts failed in the quarter. In addition, ads were plagued by delays including long start times and buffering including instances where it took up to 16.1 seconds for an ad to start and viewers had to endure up to 45.9% of ad buffering.

As a result, roughly 9% to 20% of viewers drop off each time an ad is run. For sports, the largest impact is at the very first ad where 18% of viewers drop, but subsequent ads have less effect.

The fourth ad in a stream triggers the biggest drop as 20% of news viewers, 17% of drama/comedy viewers, and 16% of reality TV viewers stop watching. Overall, 54% of the audience stopped viewing after four ads.

NFL Streaming Skyrockets

NFL viewers continued their mass migration to streaming, with a 77% increase in streaming plays and a 50% increase in time spent streaming compared with Q3 2018. Much of the NFL’s streaming growth occurred on mobile devices, which grew 109% in plays year over year, and TV, which grew 66%. Notably, NFL streaming plays on PCs went down 11% in Q3.

While mobile NFL viewing is up, the minutes per play remains small (8 minutes), inferring that fans are streaming NFL on their phones to check in on their favorite teams versus to watch games in their entirety. Those fans streaming the NFL via TV or PC watched for an average of 24 and 22 minutes, respectively.

NFL fans are also embracing streaming videos on social media, but their appetite varies by team and platform.

Miami Dolphins fans watch more of their franchise’s videos than any other team on Facebook (168% above average) closely followed by Kansas City Chiefs fans (157% above average). New York Giants fans would rather watch videos posted by their franchise on YouTube (211% above average) and New England Patriots fans are loyal to watching team videos on Instagram (227% above average).

The connected TV category once again led all other devices in growth, up 58% in viewing hours year over year compared to PCs (up 36%) and mobile (up 33%).

While Roku maintained the top position by ending the quarter with solid 44% of market share, its growth rate for viewing time (73%) was slightly lower than Amazon Fire TV (78%). Amazon Fire TV closed the quarter with 20% of market share, followed by Apple TV with 9%.

Roku also improved its quality over the past year and now delivers the lowest rate of video start failures at 0.18%, down 52% from the previous-year 2018, and nearly three times as much improvement as Amazon Fire TV which dropped 17% to 0.37%.

Xbox again has the least buffering at a mere 0.15%, while Apple TV is the most improved with buffering down 40%. Once again Apple TV has the fastest video start time at 2.6 seconds and highest picture quality at 6.8 Mbps on average.

Year-over-year comparisons were normalized at the customer level for accurate representations of industry growth. The advertising data included in the report is based on an analysis of nearly 10 billion ad attempts in Q3. The social media data included in the report is based on an analysis of more than 100,000 social posts and 2.5 billion social video views across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.