How OTT video streaming service Popcornflix engagement skyrocketed with Unreel: case study

October 18, 2018


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Video streaming service Popcornflix partnered with Unreel to create a tech solution to unify and update mobile branded apps and its website. A month after launching the new Unreel-powered desktop and mobile website, Popcornflix saw a number of improvements. Users and sessions increased by 50%, the bounce rate fell 40%, and page views increased 250%.

Unreel’s innovative design greatly accelerates Popcornflix’s engagement and growth while saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on development and management costs. Unreel also provides Popcornflix with a wealth of big data, concerning users’ actions and profiles across the entire streaming ecosystem.

While still in its early stages, Popcornflix’s relationship with Unreel has already resulted in increased revenue and the promise of a bright streaming future.


Popcornflix is an over-the-top (OTT) advertising-supported video on demand (AVOD) streaming service. With more than 25 million lifetime downloads and hundreds of thousands of active monthly users, Popcornflix is a well-established and successful business. As the consumer-facing arm of Screen Media Ventures, Popcornflix has the rights to more than 3,000 films, and more than 60 complete TV series. Screen Media Ventures is one of the world’s largest privately held premium video collections in the world.

Since its launch in 2011, Popcornflix has offered up its titles on its website and apps on virtually every OTT platform, and the company’s success can be attributed to this ubiquity. As consumers continue to move away from cable, Popcornflix’s growth has hinged on making it available across all platforms.

The Problem

Popcornflix’s rapid proliferation onto OTT platforms brought about several issues that needed to be addressed:

1) Inconsistent user interface (UI) and user experience (UX): The UI and UX in the apps on which Popcornflix content ran were severely uneven.

2) A Fragmented User Base: Popcornflix was not yet a true cross-platform streaming service, as it lacked the ability to track a user’s actions across multiple properties. This prevented Popcornflix from capturing data that could have been used to keep its users more engaged and to inform content strategy.

3) Too Expensive to Update: A wide number of platforms, each with its own design, made it complicated and prohibitively expensive to update each platform’s app regularly to keep up with new features and trends.

Popcornflix sought to enable an improved and unified experience across all OTT sites and mobile apps and to expand onto new platforms. The solution needed to enable the seamless integration of Popcornflix’s content library in a way that was cost effective and could be implemented quickly.

The Solution

Enter video streaming service provider Unreel, which provided an answer for each of Popcornflix’s woes. This partnership enabled Popcornflix to focus on its core competency: acquiring and curating great video content.

Popcornflix is now able to rapidly update their existing properties with brand new OTT apps that have all the bells and whistles needed for a modern streaming service. This is made possible because of Unreel’s plug-and-play model.

How It Works

1) Integration / Ingestion – Unreel works with content owners to source videos onto the Unreel CMS. This can be done through an automatic ingestion process with more than 150 online video platforms (OVPs) including social sources such as YouTube and Facebook, cloud storage providers, or by syncing with an MRSS feed. Content can also be directly uploaded onto Unreel with no hosting fees.

2) Content organization – Once videos are ingested by Unreel’s CMS, content owners are able to manage their videos and properties from a single administrative dashboard. The dashboard makes it easy to create channels and playlists, edit video data, and control modular design aspects of each OTT endpoint. All actions taken from the content owner’s dashboard is automatically reflected across all of the owners’ Unreel-powered apps.

3) Design – Unreel has spent years of development and user testing to create beautiful and engaging white-labeled apps. Some of Unreel’s unique features include a modular page design, user profiles, cross-platform log-in, a custom video player, time-stamped scene based comments, an instant GIF/meme creator, scene-based/video title-based search.

Being white-labeled allows content owners to launch their brands across all platforms in a matter of weeks, skipping the typical 6 – 18 month app development lifecycle.

4) User Profiles and Data – Unreel is the owner of four U.S. patents related to the collection and usage of data tracking user’s social engagement with content. With Unreel, each brand’s apps do not stand alone in a vacuum. They are interconnected and share user profiles and data. This proprietary data is used to power a recommendation engine for the user and actionable analytic reports for content owners.

Instant Growth

The first step of the Unreel and Popcornflix partnership was to launch a new mobile and desktop streaming site to see how it would perform. Replacing the old Popcornflix site with the new Unreel-powered version produced significant improvements.

Why the Improvements? The Unreel Advantage

1) Improved Design and Discover pages: When users land on the new, they are greeted with a carousel of thumbnails of curated movies. Underneath that are movie posters in rows, organized into channels by genre. This clean design makes it easy to navigate and find content, resulting in increased page views and fewer bounces.

2) Unreel video player: The Unreel video player is fast to load and offers users new ways to engage with content. The ability to make time-stamped comments on a video and create a GIF/meme out of clip and share it on social media increases virality and improves user experience, drawing more eyes to content.

3) Profiles and dynamic channels: When users create a profile, Unreel tracks what they watch and how they engage with the content. This data is automatically used to generate a recommendation row of curated content unique to each user’s demonstrated preferences. This leads to an increased amount of total views and watch time. Views are also tracked on a daily basis to create automatic ‘trending’ and ‘most popular’ channels.

The Future of Popcornflix with Unreel

Launching new web and mobile web experiences is just the start of Unreel’s relationship with Popcornflix. As new OTT platforms emerge and as designs and best practices progress, Unreel will be able to expand and update every app without any new costs to Popcornflix.

Read More: Popcornflix users skyrocket after partnering with OTT video streaming leader Unreel

With the technical and design aspects of running an OTT business handled by Unreel, Popcornflix will be able to focus its efforts and resources on what it knows best: great video content.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company.


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Ryan James

Ryan James is the Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer at Unreel, which provides networks and content owners with OTT apps across all platforms powered by BIG DATA.


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