Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Airbnb Sets Its Sights on Producing Video Content

By Chris Neiger - Updated Apr 25, 2019 at 3:03PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The home booking platform wants to use movies and streaming series to build its brand as it looks ahead to its IPO.

In a move aimed at expanding its brand and attracting even more customers to its home booking platform, Airbnb will reportedly start creating its own original video content.

The company, which is considering an initial public offering, has already funded some projects, but is still crafting a broad video strategy that will likely include films and TV shows, according to a recent Reuters article. There's no word yet on how much the company intends to spend on original programming, how many shows or films it plans to produce, or when they'll be released.

Last week, the company announced what now appears to be just its first serious foray into media, a documentary about the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus's tour through the Southeastern United States. Gay Chorus Deep South was funded and developed by Airbnb, and will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Image of a living room.

Image source: Airbnb.

But Airbnb has much bigger plans. The company is developing a show called Home for Apple's recently announced television streaming service. The series will highlight special Airbnb destinations and hosts. The company will not only distribute some of its content on other services, it will also stream some programming from its app.

Why dabble in original video content?

"The more we put content out there, the more you're going to bring people to the platform," Chris Lehane, a policy and communications executive at Airbnb, told Reuters.

The company wants to differentiate itself from other travel booking companies, and it believes original content may be the way to make that happen. Its other content project is the print Airbnb Magazine, which it launched in 2007 as a way to highlight Airbnb locations and unique stories.

With these new media ventures, Airbnb is following a trend that's been gaining popularity among major companies looking to expand their brands. One recent example is Nike, which collaborated with National Geographic on a documentary about runners trying to break the two-hour marathon barrier.

Airbnb could use its original programming to demystify its business for some travelers, particularly those who may be wary of renting a room or home from a stranger.

Building its brand before its IPO

Airbnb's valuation has reached north of $30 billion. As it gets closer to going public sometime in the next 18 months, the company is working to boost its brand awareness. Original shows and films could do that, though it's far from clear how well its investments in creating such content will pay off.

There's also the issue of oversaturation within the video streaming market. Netflix, Amazon, and Apple are spending billions on original programming, and Disney announced its own video streaming service earlier this month. While at least one of Airbnb's shows will be available on Apple's service, its content will face an enormous amount of competition for viewers' attention.

What Airbnb spends its money on -- and how much it spends -- will become increasingly important information for potential investors leading up the company's IPO. Creating original content may prove to be a bet worth making if it helps attract more travelers to its service. Or it could end up being an expensive foray into a space that's too far outside the booking platform's area of expertise.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
338%
 
S&P 500 Returns
119%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/17/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.