CASE STUDY

WaterBear, the First Interactive Streaming Service Dedicated to the Future of Our Planet, Powered by Axonista

Media

Summary 

In late 2018, Axonista announced a technology partnership with The WaterBear Network, to create the first ever interactive streaming service dedicated to the future of our planet. WaterBear is committed to climate action, biodiversity, sustainability, community, diversity and more. It provides access to award-winning and inspirational content from all over the world that empowers people to dive deep, learn more and take action.

WaterBear, which is powered by Axonista’s interactive video platform, is a free video-on-demand streaming service that gives viewers an immersive experience, connecting them with powerful stories, NGOs, projects and campaigns. The streaming service takes advantage of the full breadth of Axonista’s interactive video technology in a truly novel, innovative and immersive way. It is the first streaming service of its kind that empowers people, wherever they are, to support the environmental issues they care about. WaterBear’s interactive streaming service was officially launched in December 2020.

Key Take aways
40
WaterBear is currently available in 40 countries including US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
100+
The streaming service connects viewers to a growing global network of 100+ NGOs.
Global acclaim
Upon launch, the platform received support from high profile ambassadors including Prince Harry, Maisie Williams, Lily Cole and David Attenborough.
Across all screens
At launch, the streaming service was available on iOS and Android devices, and the web. The roadmap for 2021 includes rolling out across OTT devices, including Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, set top boxes and smart TVs.
Watching and doing
The platform was designed to bridge the gap between watching and doing, and to connect NGOs with people who care about the planet’s future.

About the Project

WaterBear was founded by multi-award winning film producer and philanthropist Ellen Windemuth. Ellen is the Executive Producer of My Octopus Teacher, which has won multiple awards, including a BAFTA, and an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2021.

With The WaterBear Network, Windemuth wanted to use interactive video technology and digital storytelling to make a real difference to our planet. Her vision was to completely reimagine and redefine the entire corporate social responsibility landscape and change the way people interact with NGOs. She didn’t want to just share inspiring documentaries. She wanted to give viewers a direct means to share, donate, volunteer and subscribe to organisations and take action. Axonista was selected as technology partner to bring Ellen’s ambitious vision to life.

The WaterBear streaming service has been described as the “Netflix for environmental documentaries and short films”, but there is a critical difference – it was designed with entirely next-level interactivity baked in. Axonista designed and built the innovative components needed to deliver a truly outstanding interactive experience. Axonista’s team leaned on over ten years’ experience building award-winning interactive video products for the likes of QVC, IFI Player, MTV, AOL, Virgin Media, Oxfam and others. Axonista led on all aspects of the platform design, including some truly game-changing key features.

Innovative Design Features
01
Axonista’s interactive authoring system within the CMS enables the WaterBear team to select the most intuitive moments within a story (“crescendo moments”) for interactive elements to be triggered. This ensures that the viewer is motivated to take action when they are most engaged.
03
Each story’s interactive timeline is fully curatable by the WaterBear team.
05
An important design goal for Axonista was to reduce the friction of fundraising and payment generation for the NGOs within the platform.
07
The WaterBear roadmap is as ambitious as it is innovative. It includes livestream events, and additional video commerce elements including travel and merchandise.
02
The interactive layer opens up donation, subscription and volunteering options, as well as the ability to educate and inform, precisely at the right moment.
04
The interactive timeline provides a range of internal and external onward journeys for the viewer, providing new engagement opportunities and story threads that they can explore.
06
Viewers who choose to donate via the platform need only enter their details once. They are then able to support any of the 100+ organisations or 200+ projects showcased.
08
The transactional interface of WaterBear’s donation feature is user friendly, secure and works seamlessly across any device. This is important as it allows the stories themselves to remain at the heart of the experience.

Launch

WaterBear launched in December 2020 in the USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Netherlands, Ireland, and Denmark. The platform showcased over 200 projects aiming to facilitate awareness, education and most importantly, enable people to take action. Much of the content was driven by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). 

A number of high-profile figures championed the launch of this incredible platform. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex endorsed WaterBear in an exclusive 9 minute interview that was shared on the platform itself ‘A Conversation With Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex’. Other WaterBear ambassadors including Actress/Activist Lily Cole, climate activist and filmmaker Jack Harries, actress and environmental activist Maisie Williams and Mya-Rose Craig (Birdgirl) celebrated the launch across their social media channels.   

Axonista’s video CMS platform has empowered the WaterBear content team in innovative ways, including the ability to decide which points in the story would trigger interactive components, and curated interactive timelines that open up further content experience pathways for the viewer, related to what inspired them the most. 

The WaterBear Network was designed around a changing society. Just as the way audiences are engaging with television and cinema has shifted in recent years, so too has the way we approach personal philanthropy. Using Axonista’s award-winning technology, The WaterBear Network has reimagined the entire corporate social responsibility landscape and changed the way people interact with NGOs.   

Technology has advanced to the point where we can finally deliver on the promise of amazing interactive video experiences across all screens, where storytelling and interactivity are so seamlessly intertwined that they become one. Not bolted together as an afterthought, but fully integrated, each an indispensable part of the DNA of the experience. Taking this approach lets us transcend the passive video player rectangle, and deliver a truly modern storytelling experience, where users don’t just view content, they connect, they take action, they participate, and, in the case of WaterBear, they quite literally get to change the world. We at Axonista are super excited that our technology platform is powering WaterBear’s innovation in the use of storytelling as a means to create a positive impact in the world, and there’s a lot more to come as the WaterBear team delivers on its ambitious roadmap.


Daragh Ward
Axonista Co-Founder & CTO

Recognition
Fast Company
WaterBear was one of nine named Media and Entertainment Finalists in the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards 2021.

The WaterBear Network is home to some of the world’s most powerful storytellers. By harnessing Axonista’s deep domain expertise around video interactivity and engagement, we have built an interactive video experience that is as innovative as it is inspirational, and the results are truly remarkable!

Victor Edward Eckard
WaterBear Network Managing Director

Summary

The WaterBear project illustrates the endless possibilities that exist when technology, design and innovation combine, not only tapping into massive societal trends, but empowering organisations and driving lasting change. WaterBear Network is the first ever “Marketplace for NGOs”, a single destination, accessible by anyone with a connected device. 

This project’s vision, reach, scale and ambition, and the way in which it unifies the content experience is truly remarkable. The platform brings together WaterBear’s award-winning, inspirational content, Axonista’s cutting-edge interactive video technology and Ellen Windemuth’s ambitious vision for a better world. It is this coming-together of vision, technology and storytelling that makes this project so special.  

In April 2021, WaterBear added an additional 30 markets including Kenya, Mozambique, Bermuda, Cook Islands, Bonaire and over two dozen European countries. In keeping with its desire to positively impact the world around it, the company pledged to plant a tree on behalf of the first 30,000 members that joined. WaterBear was one of nine named Media and Entertainment Finalists in the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards 2021. 

interactive streaming

WaterBear is one of the most inspiring and ambitious mission-driven companies of today.  Axonista is incredibly proud to be the technology partner of choice for this world-changing streaming service.


Claire McHugh
Axonista Co-Founder & CEO

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