Thrillist Moves Beyond Email to Video

Mega email mailing list Thrillist began the first steps towards moving into the online video world today, soft-launching a series of short videos that will eventually document local venues in all 15 Thrillist markets. Los Angeles and Chicago are the first Thrillist cities to get video content, which was created to accompany daily Thrillist emails about cool bars, clubs and restaurants to check out locally. Video for all markets will roll out over the next four weeks, with the goal of creating a new video for each city every week.

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The footage for each short video, ranging from 30-45 seconds each, is shot by Thrillist editors and then uploaded to the New York office, where a dedicated full-time editor works with the senior editorial team to craft the voice of the content. So far, each video consists of silent footage overlaid with fast music and somewhat snarky title cards — according to Thrillist founder Ben Lerer, with whom we spoke via phone, the plan is to “give a visual representation of what we just wrote about.”

Thrillist developed an in-house player and management system for the videos, taking a do-it-yourself approach instead of utilizing a video distribution platform like Brightcove or Ooyala. “Everything we were looking at off the shelf was either too simple or too robust for our needs,” Lerer said. Thrillist is currently using the Mirror Image CDN to deliver video, though Lerer says that could change.

Currently, the emails only link to the video content as hosted on, though though by partnering with Goodmail, videos may soon be playable in the body of the email. Video also opens up new sponsorship opportunities for the brand, both in terms of sponsored shorts and more advertorial content.

All that said, Lerer says that Thrillist’s approach to video is a cautious one: “We’re just dipping our toe in, because we want to make sure that our audience wants it.” However, they have committed to bringing on a full-time editor and training their editorial team to shoot the videos, and eventually will build out the site to spotlight the video content.

Right now, though, the video pieces simply add some extra detail to its venue profiles. Lerer said that “It’s one thing to read about a place, it’s another thing to actually see [it]. Even if a restaurant sounds delicious, you don’t know if you want to take a date or your family there until you see it. Video stood out as something that would work most naturally with our content, and would bring those experiences to life.”

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