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Is streaming media already becoming a production venue?

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#1 Orpheus

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 09:46 PM

I've mentioned before that I believe that streaming video will become a new production/distribution venue, as many cable channels are now.

I just got a message about "The Booth at the End", an eerie mysteries series that recently started its second (5-episode) season. A while back I watched a single episode of another similarly produced and distributed on XfinityTv streaming (I don't recall its name but it's about a barroom in some sort of temporal nexus where individuals "fall in" according to the dictates of some sort of higher imperative, and can't except when/where those dictates allow)

The premise seems to be that it takes two things to make a TV show: money and distribution -- and the streaming media outlets can have both.

And so can we. For the past few years, a site called Kickstarter has bee helping people raise donations to fund projects of almost any kind from performance art or writing to hardware and software. You describe your project, maybe show some samples of your work and your bona fides, or promise pledge gifts -- anything to enthuse others about it. They can commit to donate anything from a dollar up (Amazon handles billing, so they accept any form of payment Amazon does, like credit cards or PayPal  -- maybe bank transfers or e-coin), but the pledges are only charged if the project's funding goal is met. If not enough people are willing to provide enough total support, no one is charged a cent. As I noted in another recent thread, Kickstarter has gotten popular enough that donations in the millions are possible (the example I cited was a gaming figuring company that wanted $30K to expand their product line -- but got $3.5M by offering generous "pledge gifts" with a retail price equal to or somewhat exceeding the pledge -- basically achieving several years' growth and production in a single burst. That would kickstart MOST companies into the stratosphere.

Consider, if you will, Dr. Horribles Sing-Along blog. It demonstrated every stage of self-production and distribution with great success. Joss Whedon funded it out of pocket during the strike, but if a small figuring start-up can raise millions in a month, I can pretty much guarantee that anything with Whedon's name on it would raise millions in days -- or Sorkin or RHW. You know how fans are.

As for the streaming end, well, aside from the many established sites from YouTube to Hulu to... all with special arrangements for "official" promotional videos and full length distribution. There are also many video download stores like iTunes/Amazon, and countless CDNs (content delivery networks). Half the business startups I see now have streaming videos on their websites.

I know there's a lot more to the business, but the quality and production success of many unfunded or donation driven amateur productions makes me think those problems are solved too.

SFF has the interesting benefit of a large core of self-identified enthusiasts, as well as an increasingly broad "general audience", but it also often has the drawback of SFX, costume and production costs that don't appeal to networks/cable. They want dollars, and a couple of cheap mediocre reality shows or sitcoms can easily make as much profit as an SF series, but at far less investment cost risk--but YOU would *donate* to get interesting SFF but not lame sitcoms. How much? Well, a buck a viewer per ep would do it, maybe less in later seasons with merchandising, tie-ins and other revenues sources such as syndication, DVD and non-English.

We may not even need a buck a viewer. While I have tremendous respect for the many people and skills that go into traditional TV production, I very much doubt there aren't savings to be had when paying your own bills, vs satisfying a development exec, whose ulcer defines success as comfort with progress that is outside their direct action and control than the survival of an individual series. To them "prudent" means "the same old ways/vendors", not "not saving pennies where we can/must"

#2 Mark

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 01:56 AM

Mark: I watched a minute or two of the production, and thought it was well-produced. The clarity and definition of the picture was very nice, and if it were a movie, or TV program I wanted to see, I could probably be coaxed into spending a dollar an episode, or two or three for a movie.
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#3 Orpheus

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 01:59 AM

Sierraleone just started a great thread in Reviews that is chock-full of  currently viewable example series, including some that have already crossed over to mainstream channels -- Sanctuary, anyone? SyFy's mini-series [and possible series] Riese (2009)? (Both had the Tapping factor, which always helps)

You know I'm all about the empirical data, so check that thread out, "view the raw data" that's already on the web and report  back here on what you feel these series indicate about the future of self-produced streaming!

#4 ultraviolet

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 07:14 PM

Pinoneer One is a series based all on supporter funding.    So I do hope streaming media gets even more support and I do like the networks like ABC and NBC took to streaming pilots early-  NBC has Revolution online and ABC let Yahoo! put the pilot of LAST RESORT up this week.

#5 G-man

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:10 PM

Actually, I think streaming might well be the "poor man's" distribution preference.  Already, Amazon has programs and movies that are only available for download, currently there seems to be no copies available for sale in DVD.

Then also, Amazon is commissioning movies for downloads, so I figure those won't even be available in theaters, and Yahoo has special web-only programming that they host (e.g. "Burning Love").  

Consequently, I think the answer is "YES", at least until someone figures out how to charge the small independent production companies for the privilege of streaming something on the web -- which I think would be a shame.

/s/

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#6 Cardie

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:51 PM

I just watched the Last Resort pilot. It's off to a good start, although I can see problems with the premise going long term.
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#7 Orpheus

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:19 PM

Actually, big ISPs have SPECIFICALLY said for years that they intend to charge anyone who streams for using "their" bandwidth. (Wait, didn't *I* pay my ISP to buy that bandwidth for $Y/mo? Didn't the host already pay *their* ISP for that bandwidth, too? Aren't ISPs already highly profitable?)

They ISPs call it "Internet Freedom", meaning "freedom of ISPs to do whatever they want: divert you to favored vendors, limit who you can reach, choke some types of access" not a freedom for US citizens. They demand the protection afforded to common carriers (like phone companies) without the regulation by FCC, etc. They've fought many lawsuits over the FCC's "right" to regulate them, much as they've fought for decades to preserve "last mile monopoly" without Public Utility regulation.

Sadly, "Internet Freedom" was a proposed plank for the 2012 Republican platform. I don't know if it got in.

#8 Chakoteya

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:08 AM

Hand someone a possible 'monopoly' - like how you access the internet - and they are going to milk it for every penny they can until the next technological advance comes along and renders them obsolete..... Sad but true, I'm afraid.
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