Damian Pelliccione thinks that television changed for the better when the fourth-generation Apple TV, and its developer-friendly tvOS platform, launched in October 2015. But that didn’t mean TV was anywhere done evolving.
In fact, as Pelliccione, a longtime digital television producer and self-described “gay media guru,” was exploring his new Apple TV last year, he discovered a gaping hole in terms of the content it had to offer progressive viewers.
“I was so excited and inspired because I love anything that deconstructs Hollywood where it puts it more in the hands of the creators and brings back that independent spirit,” he told Brief. But when he and his partner finally got their hands on the new open-source version of Apple TV, they were surprised by what was missing from it.
“We searched ‘bi, lesbian, transgendered,’ and there were zero apps for it,” Pelliccione said. “That’s when we really had the billion-dollar idea.”
TV offerings ranging from Glee to Orange is the New Black, to the rise of Billy Eichner, indicate that the appetite for LGBTQ content is getting bigger all the time. But until Pelliccione launched Revry last March, there had yet to be a large-scale, searchable OTT platform that exclusively offered digital content aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers. Revry fills that niche and then some, compiling “Queerated” movies, digital series, music videos, and even podcasts in a clean, simple streaming app that is now available not just on Apple TV, but iOS and Android devices, Roku and Chromecast.
But while the app offers many different media options, Pelliccione was quick to stress that quality is valued over quantity. “Content is no longer king,” he said. “Having a large library of content is no longer the best thing anymore.” Curation is what really stands out in this oversaturated age, he continued, with the objective being that “If you’re an LGBTQ consumer and you want to find this type of content, you don’t have to sift through the endless noise on YouTube or Vimeo or even on Netflix.”
Discovery is so important to the Revry experience, the company even trademarked “Queerated,” the descriptor that defines its very curation process. “For us, Revry is about two things: discovery and diversity,” Pelliccione said. “Representation of all forms of minorities, LGBTQ included, was really important. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a queer artist or creator as long as it has a queer story thread to it. That’s enough for us because there’s a tie to the community and we’re giving back to the community in some respect.”
Current Revry subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month and exist in more than 50 countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, can find shows such as Brandon Blinn’s popular online bisexual-themed drama Derek and Cameron; the docu-series After Orange, which follows women as they leave incarceration from a Las Vegas female prison; and Drew Droege’s loony cross-dressing human puppet show, Paragon School for Girls. Next year, Pelliccione predicts the app will move toward more of a Netflix model in that “we are going into a whole slate of original content,” he said. “We are going to come out with a bunch of original lifestyle and reality series, and a bunch of scripted shows.”
Untethered by the whims of big corporate media, Revry can take some intriguing risks in the OTT space. The Lavender Effect, for example, is a not-for-profit organization that purveys an ongoing oral history of the LGBTQ community. Revry will include all the group’s content on its platform, which features video testimonies from members of the LGBTQ community and supportive allies who were integral participants or witnesses to historic events and movements.
“This is a space where you get to touch your audience, where you you get to engage and interact,” Pelliccione said. “That’s the brilliance of OTT television… OTT apps are super exciting to me in the cable cutting world we’re living in. Broadcast is a dying model; traditional Hollywood is a dying model. Creator-to-consumer is a new and exciting world. Now, Hollywood is deconstructed and the democratization of Hollywood is happening.”