“We don’t let filmmakers spend their money,” said Mario Niccoló Messina at the start of a conversation with VideoAge‘s Water Cooler. “I have financed 200 filmmakers in the last year and they produced 100 features and 100 documentaries,” he continued.

Messina, who goes by his middle name, Niccoló, made his big debut at the recently concluded MIPCOM in Cannes. And to make sure he got the attention of traditional media while at the market, he brought veteran content distributor Michael Solomon, the former president of Warner Bros. TV, as his senior advisor.

Messina (pictured above) exhibited at MIPCOM with V Channels, a Beverly Hills, California-based international company he founded in 2020 using a set of innovative procedures leveraging AVoD production, distribution, and streaming services.      Since the company’s inception it has achieved over 2 billion hours of content streamed and has a dedicated subscriber base exceeding 25 million across its YouTube film network. In 2023, the company embarked on a “V Originals” journey, producing 75 feature films and 100 documentaries. Its ability to dub more than 50 titles a month in Spanish and Portuguese has expanded the reach of movies to emerging countries. The company’s ambitious growth plan seeks to fund the creation of more than 300 features and 300 documentaries in the next three years, establishing it as a key player not only on YouTube but also on other VoD platforms, both domestically and internationally.

“We are firm believers in the power of data,” explained Messina, “Our decision-making process is not influenced by personal preferences; instead, we rely on data-driven insights to guide our choices. YouTube, with its ability to collect data from hundreds of millions of daily searches, provides an unparalleled source of information.”

Indeed, the strength of the 39-year-old Messina comes from his background as a data analyst with his former Telco companies. Messina entered the OTT ecosystem in 2017 with his first YouTube channel.

But, he said, “Our YouTube network represents the final phase of our distribution strategy, not the initial one. We adhere to a micro-windowing strategy within the AVoD approach for distributing our original content. Our YouTube channels operate as a secondary tier within the AVoD window. To maximize the exposure and lifespan of our titles, we distribute content via TVoD for a limited period. Subsequently, we leverage major AVoD platforms, both domestically and internationally. When the discoverability of our titles diminishes on these platforms, we utilize our YouTube network to breathe new life into our content.”

According to Messina, “the topics we explore, and the plots we develop are all rooted in a thorough analysis of [our] extensive dataset. The reason we focus on action, thrillers, horror, and mystery genres is precisely because our data analysis reveals a strong demand and interest from our audience in these categories. Using this data, we develop project outlines that serve as a foundation for filmmakers. These filmmakers then produce their content within micro-budget constraints, without shouldering any of the financial burden themselves.”

Messina pointed out that “We are dedicated to supporting the independent film industry by completely eliminating their financial risk. In 2023, we provided financial backing to 200 filmmakers, enabling them to create a total of 100 feature films and 100 documentaries exclusively for V Channels.”

Finally, about the meaning of “V” in V Channels, he said: “I was looking for a symbol. Something strong. Something that merged the concept of strength and VoD. V stands for VoD and Valentina, the name of my wife and my partner. Which in Latin means strong,” he concluded.

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