I've been attending a lot of conferences lately, in an effort to learn more about how the various cogs in the wheel are reacting to the disruptive technologies and content platforms causing so much animated discussion at the highest levels of media producers and distributors. I heard a lot of interesting comments at the Variety TV Summit a couple weeks ago, but two really stuck with me. Thought I'd put them out there for discussion today:
1. On the demise (or not?) of DVD sales...
In her keynote at the Summit, Cheryl Idell of Nielsen pointed out that DVD watching has essentially remained constant for the past several years. As a filmmaker I found this interesting because of the nose-dive taken by sell-through DVDs. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?
Note - Following the summit my company (One World Studios Ltd.) sent out a poll to several thousand of our customers/fans and asked them straight up if they still wanted DVDs. We were shocked that 66% of them said yes. The large majority of the rest picked $9.99 download over $2.99 rental. I've suspected for a while that the many platforms offering this type of service to filmmakers were going to have trouble really monetizing it. Louis CK, proved that downloads are the way to go (his are just $5), but a studio exec recently told me that a big challenge for them is not offering products (films) for download too cheaply, despite the apparent pressure to do so. Is the iTunes price just right? Has Louis undersold himself or hit the mark just right?
Question: Has anyone else out there had success or failure with this?
2. Even the big boys are using social and analytics to adjust their content...
"It takes longer for good series to find their audiences but catch-up and social drive complex dramatic series growth." Ed Carroll, COO, AMC Networks on the length of time that it takes for a series to really find its audience. He says his network doesn't follow the traditional model of instant ratings any more and places heavy bets on its tentpole series. Good news for writers/producers?
Marc Juris, COO, Tru TV followed later with this statement, "Season 1 is basically marketing for the show."
from the indie feature world I never thought about this (Can a feature
basically be marketing for a more successful sequel? Usually it's the other way around, no? A successful Part 1 leads to sequels.) How can this be applied to the online world
of content and indie filmmaking? Seems
like premiering a series online would be a great way to test it and gain
analytics. If Part 1 can be made cheap
enough, it could be used to build an audience for successive sequels.
Red Bull Media House topper Werner Brell said that they even go so far as to base the plot and content for subsequent shows on analytics insight gained in real time. I followed up with them and here's what they had to say about the viewer interaction component:
ZC: I was fascinated that you mentioned that you produce Red Bull series in "real time" based on analytics gleaned from previous shows. Do you have a specific example of something that was affected directly by the analytics?
Red Bull: The interactive web series Werner mentioned is called "Exit Vine."
Exit Vine" follows the journey of Natalie Lake, a singer/songwriter from the Midwest who moves to Los Angeles to start a band in pursuit of the "Hollywood Dream."
After each episode, the audience will help the band make a pivotal decision by casting a vote in the comment box. The next episode will be written based upon the most popular votes. Since the series debut, viewers have helped determine the name of the band -"Ambicide," the new bass player - "Sinon," and the music video that marks the beginning of a new chapter for the band.
A “bonus” video airs during the off weeks and features cast members performing tracks from the series and other behind the scenes moments. New episodes of “Exit Vine,” premiere every other Monday at 10am PT on the Red Bull Music Channel.
So... Creating a good viral video could certainly be used to prove audience interest and gain demographical data about a subject before filming commences. Even using the data to fine-tune the story before filming.
Question: Is anyone else out there using their analytics to proactively fine-tune their content before or during delivery?
Written by Zack Coffman, Head of Content, Distribution, & Strategy at One World Studios Ltd. Zack is an award-winning producer specializing in online strategy and monetization, live streaming, and YouTube channel development. Connect with Zack on LinkedIn, Google+, and @choppertown.