Chris Pajak and Paul Maych are two good friends who have lived in Liverpool and been fans of FC Liverpool since childhood.
For years they toiled in the field of hospitality, Chris became a successful restaurant manager while Paul mixed and served drinks as a bartender. While on paper their careers were doing well, both Chris and Paul felt they were missing out on a larger mission in life. Sitting down seriously one evening in a local pub, Chris and Paul pledged to work together on something they both love: a really great online fan space for FC Liverpool fans.
It wasn't an easy journey but thanks to their deep devotion to Liverpool football and life around the club, the two men were able to create and build a successful independent media platform for everything FC Liverpool - The Redmen TV.
From YouTube To WordPress
In 2007 Chris and Paul had the opportunity to shoot a pilot show for FC Liverpool’s official club TV channel - the LFC TV. FC Liverpool declined the pilot episode but with a positive response from other fans, Chris and Paul wanted to keep shooting. So they created their own FC Liverpool video channel on YouTube The Redmen TV:
We've started making videos about the football club in 2007, originally we made a pilot for LFC TV - the official club channel. Even though, we haven’t really gone anywhere with the show in the two years afterwards, we just decided that it was still a project that we believed in, that we think is good. We didn’t give up and searched for a channel suitable for releasing the content we liked.
Chris and Paul first decided to launch on YouTube:
That’s how we started to plan ahead and led us to start releasing videos on YouTube. Back then, YouTube was still a fairly new thing, not the one you see now. It was full of ridiculous DIY videos, but we were still interested in this platform because it was a free space where we could stream our show and bring it to a live audience. We launched in 2010.
The "uncensored version of LFC TV" which launched in 2010 was packed with activities that Chris and Paul did in their spare time - mainly enjoying the LFC events. Instantly receiving attention of many fans out there was overwhelming:
We could see people quite rapidly responding positively and enjoying it! We really started to connect with people from all over the world and enriching their experience of following Liverpool Football Club. We did this for about a year and about July or September 2011 we thought: You know what? We both do jobs that we absolutely hate, let’s try and make a business out of our channel - and that’s what we did. We set the business up in 2011 and we launched our website.
The momentum from their videos led Chris and Paul to launch their own new website in the form of an online TV platform dedicated to FV Liverpool that could give fans an extraordinary experience:
Originally, the idea was that we were going to give free videos away on YouTube and we also wanted to create content where we could really go to depth in talking about Liverpool by giving people three videos a week for 2 GBP a month.
How Redmen TV flourished while traditional news outlets struggle
As fans themselves, Chris and Paul priced the membership low (€2/month) to make it easy for fans to join. Almost every football fan has an extra couple of quid in his pocket. While Chris and Paul improved and deepened the site, they kept it inexpensive making sure their subscribers felt they were offered good value for money.
Foliovision Creative Director Alec Kinnear points out how Redmen TV benefits from gradually increasing the membership price and content quality in a proportional way:
Too many sites try to extract relatively large subscription fees like $/€/£ 10/month for a thin service or a casual habit. The high price creates a barrier. Netflix also flourished by originally focusing on value and numbers (the initial offer of an almost unlimited video library two streams of HD video for $8/month was extraordinary value).Chris and Paul started with the same strong offer as Netflix. Like Netflix over time, Redmen TV have gradually increased the base subscription while adding additional services. RedmenTV now costs the fan a relatively princely sum of £5/month or £50/year. In exchange for the higher fee, a subscriber receives a much more frequently updated website and more content. The Redmen TV may be at the upper end of price elasticity now: time will tell.
Starting with an irresistible offer is always a strong way to launch a business: Chris and Paul got this right. As it's a subscription business, it's inherently sustainable as the revenue generally keeps growing if the service stays steady or improves. Their previous background in small business management helped them when it came time to set up solid production schedules, keep costs reasonable and build revenues. Chris admits that even though the beginnings were rough, the consistency has paid out:
When we started I got a personal loan out about 5.000 GBP of my own money and after building up the website, literally two people signed up and were willing to pay the fee of 2 GBP a month for the show. Eventually, over the years it started to bear fruit and when people started to subscribe we begun to become more financially viable.
Journey forward in video technology
The original hand coded website used Flash Video Player for video. With growing visions of running a premium content website, Chris and Paul required a serious re-design, with easier navigation on their site and a reliable video player which would allow subscribers to view their content securely:
The video player is absolutely central to what we want to do, to what we want to achieve. We were running a website for about 5 or 6 years and during that period of time it became non salvageable and outdated. Stumbling upon a new CMS that was solid and provided user-friendly environment, we knew we were heading in the right direction.
Chris and Paul decided to move their site to WordPress and hunt out for a video player that would support growing amount of content they produced:
After switching to a WordPress site in about 2017, it was about making sure that we have a video player flexible enough to give us ability to do a few different types of things. We picked up FV Player right away as the core of our video platform and since then, player is the most important part of our website, really.
When Amazon S3 Meets FV Player
Once Chris and Paul had their WordPress site up and running, the FV Player quickly became the core of their video platform:
Because our videos are stored in Amazon S3 Bucket, we needed a video player that could read that and because we have subscription based website, we needed to make sure that only people who are paying for the content can access the video. Foliovision does it and makes it easier for us. We achieved our goal with the combination of WordPress and FV Player.
What secures the premium video content for The Redmen TV is the HLS encryption security layer which FV Player supports. It protects your videos from unauthorised download attempts and most video downloaders, making it one of the most secure ways to stream and secure your videos without expensive and troublesome DRM. Years later, Chris and Paul are still enjoying the benefits of the move:
When we moved from Flash to FV Player it was just so much easier for everybody. Moving was a big part of changing the layout of the website and as people were paying for it, we want to give them a premium product - for us that is the premium video. Since we started, we’ve expanded to a studio, to a podcast as well but a huge proportion of our views is still our video content.
While the free YouTube content mostly just raises the awareness about brand, the premium content on the website carefully covers every step of the FC Liverpool and the life around it, and as Chris says, "it never stops."
The content was originally produced by Paul and Chris and it hasn't changed much since then as they have equally passionate members of staff on board:
There was two of us, me and Paul starting the show, we’ve been best friends for years since school days. Eventually, we got to a point where me and Paul could go full-time. We worked for full-time hours, although we weren’t getting full-time paid we were doing something that we enjoyed. Now we’re at a point where a good local business is supporting five full-time and a couple of part-time staff members, giving opportunities to local people to improve their video skills.
The team produces quality show content:
- Around The League show discusses all news, events, important causes and plans happening within the clubs of Premiere League.
- Instant Match Reactions is like joining a chat of two friends after a game who share their thoughts and analyse everything that has happened in the previous 90 minutes.
- Exclusive Interviews show includes talks with important members and also former members of the club covering many interesting topics.
- Opposition Insight values the opinion and commentary of people outside the FC Liverpool community (e.g. other clubs) and connects with them.
Redmen's Favourite FV Player Features
To manage their rich library, Chris and Paul needed the ability to easily add and post content. Automated quality switching was equally essential for the vast international fanbase of FC Liverpool, due to the bandwidth limitation on access to internet in many parts of the world:
We always wanted to be able to create content in different qualities. The HD show in the UK was quite big, going from 3 to 6 GB. Watching such content with bandwidth restrictions could lead to non-stop buffering, so obviously the freedom to switch qualities was very essential for us.
Thanks to the FV Player’s Quality Switching feature this was possible - the selected preferred quality of video is stored as a cookie and therefore you can get your quality across the site (matching video site-wide). This feature allows the video to be played in desired qualities providing HD, SD and a mobile version. The video quality switches on the go according to user’s bandwidth and this way never fails to play the latest video content wherever he is which extended the Redmen TV's audience to a live international community.
Sitting down and watching an hour long show isn't always possible, so having a player like Netflix which allows a viewer to keep viewing where s/he left off is a huge convenience. Video Position Saving in FV Player's stores the exact point where a subscriber stopped watching the video and allows viewing from that point next time the same video:
As a custom built WordPress site powered by FV Player, The Redmen TV rolled into a new era. They received lots of positive feedback from fans being able to watch high quality shows seamlessly and the subscriber numbers went up as Chris confirmed:
The original content stayed the same but has a better quality and the more people subscribed - the consumer rate went up by 110 %. The user has a feeling he has a premium video product and we feel like we’re offering a premium video product.
The Redmen TV isn’t only a successfully independent business, but thanks to FV Player it is home to FC Liverpool fans from many corners of the world. Having their videos streamed securely everywhere allows Chris and Paul to focus on other important parts of their mission:
To be honest, the video player became something we don’t have to think about anymore and that’s the greatest compliment that I could give it. It used to take up so much of our time with people having issues with streaming and the video not working properly. With FV Player which has become such a central part of our business, video is something that we never have to think about because it’s all taken care of. It works. That's what gives you the time to focus on creating content now, regarding it is going to handle whatever responsibility we put on it.
In the future, Chris and Paul would like to focus on bringing real-time shows through Live Streaming via FV Player. Other imminent plans include improving mobile accessibility via an app for fans on the go:
Going forward, we wanna create an app and for that of course we need a video player that’s will interact seamlessly with mobile devices. I hope Foliovision would do that for us, because it has been so easy with you.
Meanwhile, you can watch what they are up to these days:
If you'd like to try out the latest show episodes, visit The Redmen TV and start your free trial or subscribe.
For more details linked to FV Products visit:
- FV Player Pro
- FV Player documentation - to find out more about the features
- Using the HLS with FV Player
Chiara was born and raised in the neighbourhood of Petržalka in Bratislava. Besides studying Marketing Communication at Comenius University, she happens to be an observer, mostly through the lens of a camera.