New DTC streaming network launches in Toronto

Onviva's mission is to democratize video content and will monetize through "tip jar" and transactional means.

A new, Canadian-made live video network is preparing to go live this month, providing an alternative to big global video platforms for independent content creators and providing a DTC experience for viewers.

Onviva delivers a full suite of options for creators from musicians, comedians, artists and athletes to authors, consultants, crafters, tradespeople and charities. Those creators have the freedom to price, schedule and deliver live video to audiences of any size, anytime, anywhere at

Michael O’Farrell, Onviva founder and CEO, explains that although the platform is an ad-free venture, it is open to brand sponsors who are interested in supporting creator communities, and it can work with creating unique, in-video placements for brands either directly or through agencies.

But overall, the monetization of Onviva is through a more transactional model. Viewers can buy credits – one Canadian dollar per credit – to pay for live broadcast event tickets and paid video calls. Creators can also host free streams that don’t require tickets, but viewers can also engage in a “tip jar” model where they pay what they can, if they want, to support the creators and their content.

Creators and event producers are paid weekly and there are no minimum payout restrictions. Refunds requested by a creator to viewers for any reasonable reason are provided before creator payouts. Additionally, creators own all of their content.

The “tip jar” model has been used by major platforms in the past; last year Facebook announced a number of payment options for its creators on Facebook and Instagram including fan subscriptions and “stars,” which users can purchase and then award to creators. However, Facebook has not released detailed results on the initiative and recently began testing ads on IGTV that would see revenue split with creators.

The success of premium subscription platform Patreon also indicates that users and fans are willing to pay for content they enjoy; there are more than three million users on the platform supporting 100,000 different independent creators.

O’Farrell’s main experience lies in mobile; he previously served as the Canadian country manager for the Mobile Marketing Association and in 2005 founded the Mobile Institute focused on education in the field. Early creators on the platform include Canadian comedian Stewart Reynolds (known also as Brittlestar and the creator of the popular “Explaining Canada Day to Americans” video) and TV personality Adam Growe.

The company is privately funded with a number of private investors. O’Farrell says that in terms of building audiences, it’s taking an approach of partnerships, PR and cross-promotion. It’s currently working on finalizing partnerships with industry organizations representing its potential creators – including performers, people in the culinary arts and more – and expects promotion to roll out shortly after the mid-point in July, once partnerships have been finalized.

O’Farrell says plans for Onviva were originally to roll out in fall of 2020, but it was accelerated because of the struggles certain creators were facing during the pandemic. “The industry groups, a lot of their members are finding it difficult to make money,” he says.

In addition to cross-promotional strategies with industry organizations, it’s working with its creators on a social media promotion strategy. “We’re really not looking to become a social media destination, but we’re really looking to support the creators and help them monetize their followings.”

With files from Bree Rody