Interview by iDare Writer: Christopher Burch
“I created a cable network for the millennials of today. This platform goes beyond any other platform known to man”, says CEO Jason Swanston of OVNIO, an online TV cable network. He continued- “OVNIO is the 1st online cable TV network”. OVNIO stands for OpenVision Networks International Online.
Mr. Swanston proceeded, “We chose the millennial (ages 18-34) demographic because they literally- nowadays- dictate how different industries buy stuff. They (millennials) move the needle because they download apps in different parts of the world and they say to major industries what they want and how they want it. Whether it be the automotive industry, or the music industry.” What OVNIO does is it allows millennials to watch entertainment 24/7, in the same structure of cable TV- in the form of various channel types. These channels are marathon type channels where one could view Kung Fu movies on one channel and skateboarding on another.
Jason concedes, “A lot people have tried to implement it (the OVNIO idea), but no one has sat down to write the software to distribute this type of entertainment to people around the planet. That is what I did. I sat down and asked myself what are the coordinates? What do I have to do to write the software so kids in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States can physically watch one cable channel or in a multitude of cable channels that they like, simultaneously, in various time zones?”
In Jason’s research, he found out that President Obama’s first inauguration was being shown in every time zone in the world, at the same time. “I said to myself- “If I can duplicate that same scenario in a form of a cable channel…” He continued, “you know what- I can create my own ecosystem of a different type of television viewer”. OVNIO coupled that experience with the ability for millennials to watch to their liking and choosing, but to buy products directly from the TV show itself. This included anything from buying a car, music, clothing, etc.
“OVNIO is a maturation of all my creativity and experiences in the music industry as well as TV and film” said Jason. As a teenager, he interned at Advanced Multimedia Systems in NYC. It was a company that manufactured and distributed the hardware that allowed the motion picture studios to generate animation platforms for films like Jurassic Park. It was at AMS that he learned how to animate and use computer programs. This led him to create video games.
At 13 years old, he was recognized as an accelerated student with a high IQ. When at 15, he took college courses at NYU. At 15 he was accepted to Columbia University to pursue a career in biology. He was taking bio classes, interning and creating video games. Two years later, he happened to run into one of his mentors named Sir Charles Dixon. Mr. Dixon was working in the radio department at MCA records and he gave Jason an opportunity to do grassroots marketing for Mary J. Blige’s albums, Share My World, Mary, etc. With this opportunity, Jason was exposed to the record label executives for such labels as MCA, Geffen, Universal Records and Cash Money- to name a few.
With his own cash and quickly gaining experience, Swanston created his own marketing firm on Wall Street called Wall Street Marketing and Promotions. He had fifteen record label accounts. At that time, he had already worked with Bad Boy Records, Death Row Records, Priority Records, Sony Records and Columbia Records. All these endeavors were accomplished before his mid-twenties.
Jason grew up in the Chelsea section of NYC. He later moved to Washington Heights in the early 90’s. His mother was a computer programmer and his dad was an entrepreneur. “The neighborhoods were very diverse and I drew my inspiration from my parents as well”. He is a proud father of a beautiful two year old daughter. “I try to teach her everything I know. She is such a sponge while going through her terrible two’s”. Jason is in a very healthy relationship with his child’s mother. “It gets tough sometimes because I live bi-coastally. I stay in L.A. a lot. So it takes plenty of understanding”.
When social media (MySpace) ended the grass-roots music marketing industry, Jason entered the world of digital strategy. At the time of the publication of this article, OVNIO is in over 150 countries, with just under one million registered cable subscribers. “I am projecting to see how many- meaning who sign up as opposed people who are just unregistered viewers. We get paid by the number of people who watch the channels”. In 2018, Jason is predicting that OVNIO will be more available (it is free) for the mobile customer. In the future, when he officially goes public with the network, it will be available for the mobile customer at $6.00 USD monthly and up.
“In my experience in traveling through different industries, I’ve learned that you must stay true to what you believe in. You must follow your own dreams and focus only the thing that makes you happy. If you don’t understand something, ask somebody in that industry that knows more than you. That’s how I became smarter. Get educated in the thing that you want the most. In these times, you need more life experience, as well as a college degree. A college degree is good, but if you don’t have any ambition to go along with that degree then you should just go get a job. Stay focused, learn from the O.G.’s- in that particular industry.”