Jamie Wilkinson, the co-founder and CEO of the revolutionary new streaming service VHX, recently came and talked to our Expanding Cinema: New Media, Movies, and Beyond class. If you go to VHX’s homepage you’ll be greeted with this call to action: LAUNCH YOUR OWN STREAMING VIDEO SERVICE.
If you choose to answer that call you’ll be able to, as Wilkinson puts it, “operate [your] own Netflix.” By eliminating the typical front page, marketplace scenario that almost all streaming services have adopted, VHX users can set up their own website, merch store, and control the price of their content. Consumers don't see VHX, they see the creator, whose store is powered by VHX.
Wilkinson likens VHX to Wordpress in the sense that it’s unlikely you’ll gather an audience on the Discover tab of Wordpress.com and more likely you will attract an audience via other social media platforms. Thus, VHX caters to content creators who already have an established audience or have a clear strategy to get that audience which is based on a good sense of who exactly they’re creating content for.
Wilkinson is adamant about VHX “helping the little guys of the world.” While the service does have big companies such as NBC with their own VHX network, the revolutionary part about VHX is that anyone has the ability to look as professional as NBC.
VHX has effectively leveled the playing field for all content creators. You no longer have to slave your way through Hollywood in order to say you run a network, you just have to set up an account on VHX and pump out some high-quality content.
The service was originally created 3 years ago in order to help comedian Aziz Ansari release his comedy special. With $5, fans can purchase his comedy special directly from azizansari.com through the VHX video streaming platform, thereby giving Ansari much more power over the transactional realm of his content.
Others example of VHX users include Rachel Brathen’s instructional yoga videos, Drafthouse Cinemas’ original film series, and even a live taping of This American Life’s performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. YouTube sensation Grace Helbig also released her first feature film Camp Takota through VHX, as well as on other platforms. VHX clearly covers a diverse range of filmmakers and content creators, and doesn’t limit itself to only movies or TV shows. It’s like a high-quality, subscription-based, individualized YouTube.
What’s the point of VHX if we already have streaming services such as YouTube that host more individualized DIY content or Netflix that boasts big budget productions? Where does VHX come into play?
As mentioned before, the ideal VHX-er already has an established audience. The service, however, allows creators to transact with their audience and have a more direct interaction. YouTube might have cut out the middleman by allowing users to upload their own content without permission from a production company, but perhaps there’s another middleman that VHX cuts out. This middleman being a streaming service that hosts a variety of content (like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) rather than taking you to the creator’s content directly, as VHX does.
If you’re looking to create your own network in a way which revolutionizes the notion of audience development, VHX might just be the place for you. In this ever-changing landscape of media, VHX does have the capability to one day reach Netflix’s acclaimed status and popularity.
In other words: VHX and chill?
Shaye Davis is a student in the NYU/Tisch Undergraduate Film and TV Department from the class of 2018.