Two years ago, NBCUniversal bought Craftsy, a streamer offering instructional lifestyle videos on a per-class basis. At that time, former Mattel Chief Content Officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber (left) was appointed general manager.
Last year, NBCU formed a new subscription service, Bluprint, out of Craftsy (John Levisay, who founded Craftsy, is Bluprint’s CEO and runs the service). This year, as revealed in the following interview with Schwaber, Craftsy and Bluprint are one.
Balsam-Schwaber, whose NBCU resume includes senior vice president for both iVillage, the women’s content site, and the Content Innovation Agency, spoke about the evolution of Bluprint and the future of lifestyle content.
(The following has been edited slightly for length and clarity.)
The Savvy Screener: Can you explain the difference between Bluprint and Craftsy?
Balsam-Schwaber: We have exciting news to share! On January 8, Craftsy fully folded into Bluprint, your home for all things creative. Bluprint remains true to the Craftsy heritage – to give everyone access to the world’s best teachers and to make it easier to learn new skills and complete projects from start to finish. Now that Craftsy has become Bluprint, we offer a seamless experience for our members.
TSS: What’s the strategy behind Bluprint’s revenue model?
Balsam-Schwaber: Bluprint has multiple revenue streams – annual subscription, a la carte offerings and curated commerce opportunities. Content and commerce work hand-in-hand to help jump start a creative path determined by your personal creative passions.
TSS: Who do you see as Bluprint’s chief competitors?
Balsam-Schwaber: We don’t have a direct competitor in the space. We think of time as our greatest competition. Making time to embark on a creative journey can be the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of finding a hobby or activity that you love. We try to serve up what our members need, when they need it. Whether you have five minutes or five hours, we can give you the tools, experts and programs you need to be successful.
TSS: How important is the collaboration between Bluprint with other NBCU properties?
Balsam-Schwaber: We enjoy a unique position inside the NBCU portfolio which gives us access to new audiences and the chance to demonstrate our brand through creative integrations and partnerships. Whether it’s co-branded classes with the Today show or integrations with a USA, Bravo or NBC hit series, we are part of a very supportive organization that recognizes the value of the Bluprint brand.
TSS: Any new upcoming programming that you can discuss?
Balsam-Schwaber: We are always on the hunt for new experts and content so we can add more value to our existing members and attract new customers to the Bluprint family. This month we are launching a robust writing vertical that will feature some notable names from the literary world, including best-selling authors Steve Almond and Emily Rapp Black. Additionally, we have partnered with Whole Foods on a healthy eating class and we are launching new classes in pottery and home décor… with so much more to follow.
TSS: What about the breakdown between entertainment and instructional content?
Balsam-Schwaber: We don’t view our content in two different lanes – we think about all our content as both inspirational and aspirational, all with a ‘how to’ component. Depending on the moment, our content can be lean-in, while you make that project you’ve been dreaming of, or you can sit back and watch the experts take you through their process while saving tips and ideas for later.
TSS: What is Bluprint’s ’s demographic? Do you see that changing at all?
Balsam-Schwaber: Our audience is a diverse set of consumers who share a common mind-set and want to connect with their creative passions. The Bluprint experience and content is designed to meet any of our members wherever they are in their journey, with categories from woodworking, to painting, to knitting. Members come to us for traditional handmade categories like knitting and sewing, and we have new members coming in for some of the expanded offerings like wellness, entertaining and home décor. One thing we have seen clearly is that there is tons of cross over… these folks are naturally curious and interested in expressing their creativity in a multitude of ways, so they may come for cake decorating but try embroidery and move on to sewing. The beauty of the service is that you can keep trying things until you find something that gives you joy.
TSS: What do you envision the streaming industry looking like in five years? What do you see as Bluprint’s role at that time?
Balsam-Schwaber: The industry is moving so rapidly it’s hard to predict a year from now, so five years seems like a lifetime. What I can tell you is that we believe craft and self-expression through making, and physical connection to creative expression, will have increased importance in our lives as the world continues to make technological advances. We know people are seeking out ways to reconnect with themselves and each other through creativity, and as the role of creativity and design continues to grow, Bluprint will be an important destination for those seeking out those connections.
TSS: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Balsam-Schwaber: At Bluprint, we believe that expressing your creative passions will bring joy to your life. To make that happen, it’s about spending your precious time to dedicate to yourself and to your own projects – it should fill up your bucket and feel like it’s time well spent. We believe If you haven’t fallen in love with one project, you should try another… something will connect for you, and the benefit can be lifechanging. The beauty of the streaming model is value, so you can move through various classes until you find the thing you love. Bluprint has over 4,000 hours (and growing) of original classes in categories that champion self-expression, wellness, fitness, baking and cooking. We are confident there is something for everyone.
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