If you thought you knew the future of digital media, think again.
You haven’t seen it quite like the folks at HERE Boston do. Their growing media platform, which recently launched its own app, is on a mission to change the way we think about our city and how we see it. HERE Boston’s slogan is ‘Welcome to wherever you are!’ Their mission is to reinvent media with high energy and new technology.
Like Netflix, HERE Boston continuously rotates a wide collection of original content that covers MOVIES, SPORTS, LIFESTYLE, HEALTH, FOOD, ADVENTURE, COMEDY and more. They take you around the world with travel pieces and documentaries that have that certain“Boston” DNA. In addition, the platform has spotlight event coverage for many of the region’s biggest community and social events that the“legacy media” is unable to cover.
“EXPAND THE BRAND!” That’s the rallying cry heard often around the HERE Boston studios, which offers some insight to where they see the brand heading. George Danello, CEO of HEREBoston, often surprises potential partners and corporate brands when the idea of a multi city roll out comes up.“HERE Boston is a local brand with a worldly reach,” he said. “Currently,people in over 20 countries routinely enjoy the app, and as we continue to expand, brands that aren’t just geographically bound can get their HERE ROI from this wide ranging reach. Currently, the platform is dedicated to broadcasting (or streaming)both local and regional content in the OTT (over the top) space, with “info-taining” and original content.”
HERE Boston’s focus is to deliver “original local content” in a way that is much more efficient, convenient and cost effective.By downloading the freeHEREBoston app (accessible on nearly every mobile device-think Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Android, IOS, Apple TV and Roku), viewers can explore content from the worlds of music, sports, entertainment, health and pop culture. This approach allows users to create their own personalized experience with content that they deem important to their lifestyle.
“HEREBoston is happy to lead the charge as media disrupters,” says co-founder Chuck Nilosek. “At our core, we are creative beings searching for the museum to house our works of art.Problem was, all the museums were closing, too restrictive and too expensive, so we built our own. Yes, our platform delivers content, and is made for the enjoyment of the user,but it’s also a platform that inspires opportunity for the artists like us,who want to continue a life of fulfilling our life’s purpose by following our passions!”
The concept got its initial start in 2017and the HERE Boston team has been working feverishly behind the scenes on the technology just to get to this point. “Now we have relationships with big names like Amazon Fire and Roku,” Nilosek said. “It was through perseverance and resiliency that got us here. We launched the app last September and right away began live streaming big events. We did America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth. This isa world class event that many people knew very little about outside theSouthShore. With the 400th anniversary celebrations of Plymouth, Boston, Quincy and Salem, Mass. on the horizon, we knew that the eyes of the planet will be on our region over the next few years. Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrating family, community and gratitude; so why should this party be only available to the people of this area? HEREBoston had people in over 10 countries watch that event live and since the event takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving Day, it gives outstanding opportunity to brands like grocery chains or national food names to get that last minute message out to the consumer. Even better, I’ll argue that our stream, might be the most ideal branding opportunity around for the Black Friday shopping surge taking place six days later. With a live stream, then a video on demand of the event, branded partners will have their messages visible for an infinite length of time!”
How would Nilosek describe the app to a first time user?“First and foremost, people will find it to be very familiar,”he said. “When we were in development, people couldn’t understand the idea of a Netflix for Boston, but now we have people in 20 countries downloading the app. We can do live and video-on-demand for movies and videos like Netflix but we also have video podcasts and other content Netflix wouldn’t carry. HERE Boston doesn’t compete with Netflix no rare we even trying to replace that awesome product. We just deliver different content in a similar way.”
As for Nilosek’s prediction on the future of video? “Content is always going to be king,”he said. “Video is the number one way to fully get your message out there.HEREBoston’s slogan is ‘Welcome to wherever you are.’Being in the startup phase, we spent a lot of money on technology and infrastructure. Right now, we are raising more money to be able to grow the platform. At this time next year,we expect to have 150,000-200,000 subscribers. We operate 20 months from right now.”
When they were creating the platform, Nilosek had hockey legend Wayne Gretzky in mind. “He was famous for saying that his secret to greatness was his ability to not focus on where the puck was at the moment, but to skate to where he expected the puck to be next,” Nilosek said.“If he anticipated where the puck would land, that gave him an advantage on his competition. We were deciding where our audience will be tomorrow, so we are focusing on that. It was a long term strategy we had in mind.”
Is that “disruptive” enough? HERE Boston seems to think so. As new technology unfolds, mainstream media are understandably nervous with the emergence of entities like this platform to the digital media scene. This is all before HERE Boston introduces roll outs and upgrades, which are all scheduled within the next 36 months.
For now, the abundant collection of videos on demand available in the app include everything from the 2018 Cape Cod Baseball Leagues Hall of Fame Inductions to their “Wax Sessions,” HERE Boston’s signature live music show bringing the regions local talent to the rest of the world.
Local artist and musician Aldous Collins joined theHERE Boston team last winter. “At first I was skeptical to how this would all play out,” he said, “but what won me over is the hard work, commitment and passion of the team that churns out such amazing work week after week. We have done over 20 live episodes of Wax Sessions and in just those few months, we have become the place where all the talent wants to be. As this momentum builds, I can see this network being the next MTV or VH1. Music inBoston is special. It deserves all the high praise and respect that this platform gives it.”
The openness of HERE Boston is clearly an inviting spot for creative artists in the city. For example, “LIV Streaming” a new concept with American folk music icon Livingston Taylor, is in the works. Taylor’s pilot show featuredBoston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart from the historic stage of Symphony Hall. (Be sure to check this out now in the music section of the app).
In the short term, HERE Boston hopes to be a household name in media like Barstool Sports, Cheddar, or Buzz Feed, all because they acted swiftly yet cautiously to grow their team and platform before their audience. Once these key elements are met, success will surely follow.
In the meantime, HEREBoston is now looking to rapidly expand content featuring more iconic Boston organizations.“Our strategy is to get everything right,” Nilosek said. “It’s an evolution of content and we want to grow naturally. We have a low turnover right now meaning when users download the app which is free and available in every app store, they keep it. We are data aware,but not data driven. Our data isn’t a referendum on our success,but a guide on how to be successful. Our data is our oxygen.”