The digital TV network nobody’s talking about, but should
By ROGER MALONEY
Lateef A. Sarnor saw an opportunity to make money by curating digital videos and leverage his relationship with advertisers. Thus, Kollide.TV was born.
Kollide.TV is an alternative to legacy television. It provides a platform for multicultural programming that includes news (The Daily Dose), documentaries (Afraid of Dark, about black male stereotypes), web series (Finding My Obama) scripted dramas (In Between Men), and more. Advertising currently sustains the site, but Kollide.TV will soon move to a subscription model similar to Hulu.com and Netflix that will deliver videos on demand to mobile consumers, Sarnor says.
Before he founded his own digital television network, Sarnor spent 20 years as a creative and marketing professional. His experience includes stints at AOL, BET, Black Enterprise, and Def Jam Records, and he’s overseen sales strategy and marketing initiatives for Coca-Cola, Ford, P&G, Diageo and Toyota. As founder and CEO of Kollide, this self-proclaimed pop culture junkie is responsible for driving revenue as well as developing sales and marketing plans that reach African American, Hispanic and LGBT audiences across the digital landscape.
Sarnor spoke exclusively with Roger Maloney about providing a platform for people who wouldn’t normally have a chance with mainstream media outlets. Lateef, 44, also talks about how we got his start and what’s next for his online TV channel.
Roger Maloney: What is Kollide.TV?
Lateef A. Sarnor: We are a video platform dedicated to developing, delivering, and discovering videos with a multicultural perspective across the digital landscape. We cover all types of content from scripted series to documentaries. We focus on shows that have strong characters or personalities with a particular point of view.
RM: What inspired you to start KollideTV ?
LS: While I was at AOL, I was on a panel at the Sundance Film Festival talking about digital distribution. Every content creator in the room had one question: “How do I make money at this?” Many of them were on YouTube and even had strong viewership numbers, but they weren’t monetizing their content. I realized there was a big opportunity to create a platform that curated the best content that was being created in the digital space and, because of my advertising relationships, I could monetize them more effectively than what (the creators) were doing.
RM: How do you monetize the platform?
LS: We currently use an advertising model to support the site. However, we are in the process of launching a subscription service similar to Netflix and Hulu. We believe that there is an audience hungry for content that is reflective of their lives and experiences. We’ve held several focus groups and it is clear that today’s audience is willing to pay a small premium to get quality content that is selected for them and delivered to the device of their choice for them to watch when they want.
RM: What kinds of shows do you currently find most appealing, or would you like to offer more of on Kollide?
LS: We are always interested in good content. That means, strong writing, developed characters and it has to look good. Ideally, we are interested in acquiring finished (or nearly finished) projects, but we are having discussions with several content producers about concepts they have that we believe have the potential to capture large audiences.
RM: How did you get your start in the media business?
LS: I started out working in Legal Affairs at Def Jam records. After a short stint as a paralegal at a large law firm, I realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. So I wrote a letter to Lyor Cohen, then President of Def Jam Records, about my passion for music and interest in working in marketing. They offered me a job.
RM: What are your future plans for Kollide?
LS: World domination! We want to be the go to network for creatives who want to tell interesting stories that don’t get told often or don’t have a home on traditional network TV. We want to be the place that viewers turn to every night to find something different and engaging to watch. To that end, we are planning to ramp up our content production. We want to fund the next wave of stories and storytellers. The types of people who won’t find a home on network TV. We are also planning to host a crowd fund campaign where we will empower the audience to help select which shows get made. Finally we are planning a marketing campaign that will help build awareness of what we are doing. We want everyone to know about KollideTV.
Roger Maloney is the founder of Ufront Media Insights, which plugs people into the latest news about social media, technology, advertising and one-on-one interviews with the next generation of media leaders.