Every single month since ALGORITHM’s initial release I’ve found at least 5 pirated versions of the complete movie up on Youtube. Sometimes there are ads beforehand, which is really irritating because it means the pirate is making money off it. But, mostly, it’s just the movie. For the last few months I’ve begun sending DMCA takedown notices to Youtube, which usually takes them down within about an hour of the request. It used to take longer, but I’ve sent enough of them that I think I’ve now gotten streamlined.
The reason I’ve been requesting the takedowns is because I feel a moral obligation to the cast and crew to try and earn as much money as I can with the movie, to pay them back for all their hard work.
But, it’s more than that. It’s also that I want to continue making movies and I can’t do that if I can’t find a way to make money from each project. Its either that, or I get a job and subsidize the movies with the money from the job. That lattes situation is actually probably going to be the case for at least the near-future, as I experiment with different distribution models.
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I kept letting Mandi know that she was more than welcome to experiment with different distribution models since ALGORITHM’s budget was actually so low. Now that she’s not really leading the distribution anymore, it falls back to me to make those choices. And it’s got me thinking… a lot.
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I texted James, my ad exec brother, and asked him how much TV networks get paid for advertising. The way they measure it is cost per thousand, CPM, or, $/1k. The networks generally get $10/1k views. That means, a show like Mad Men, which gets about 5.7million viewers per week gets $10 x 5,700, or $57,000. Now, keep in mind, that’s not per episode, that’s per 30 second commercial.
A typical 30 minute show will have 22 minutes of actual show, leaving 8 minutes of commercials. Mad Men is 1hr, so just double that to 16 minutes, times 2 gives us 32 30 second commercials, or spots. That’s $57k x 32, or $1,824,000 per episode.
That money gets divided a lot of different ways. But, ultimately, it does go to the show, and all the executives, all the ad men, the actors, the crew, the cast, the various writers, etc.
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Here’s where things get a little weird: Youtube charges $1 for a video ad to play before legit content, per complete play. When someone clicks to skip it after the first five seconds, there’s either no charge, or a much lower charge. The video ad (the ad itself is digitally inserted and may change depending on the ad by purchased by the advertiser) will play every single time the video is played for a unique IP address, or a unique user. If you watch a video over and over, generally, the ad won’t keep repeating. Sometimes it will, but mostly not.
Now, for a bit of guess-work. Let’s assume that 99% of people skip the ad. That means that 1% of the views, or 10/1k pay. So, for every 1k views a some legitimate content gets (lets say I post ALGORITHM, then ALGORITHM would be legit content), it would be making $10. Which, is exactly what the networks would be making.
The bulk of the digital work is being done by Youtube. It’s easy to discount the amount of work Youtube does. Don’t. However hard making a movie is, hosting video content for the entire world is more work, a lot more!. I’m not sure it’s 80% of the work, but it’s most.
Youtube will generally pay content creators $2/1k views. That seems like a really low number, and it is. In other words, if ALGORITHM gets seen 1 million times, I get $2k, per ad. I can put more than one ad per video, which may seem a bit obnoxious, but neither the movie, nor its distribution is free to make. If people don’t want to pay with their money, they’ll pay with their attention or time. That’s the way the world works these days. It’s neither good nor bad. Maybe everything will be free in the future.
Because ALGORITHM is not short-form content, more ads may be acceptable. Since I haven’t tested it, and since it’s not the main use for Youtube, there’s not a lot of metrics available for this. But, as the number of ads increase the numbers of profitability begin to approach the numbers than Mad Men gets. I would never allow 16 minutes/hour of ads, but I could definitely get away with more than one ad.
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When I first started writing this post, I was pretty up-in-the-air about how to distribute ALGORITHM. Now that I’ve actually reasoned it out, Youtube seems like the best model, by far, for a lot of different reasons. I’ve got to think about it a little more and talk with some other people, but it looks like that’s what I’m going to do.
The more I run the numbers, the more reasonable Youtube begins to look. The real question I’m asking, the thing at the root of all of this is what is the best medium that allows me to appease the pirates who want to pay nothing, and still get it to people, still keep making content. In other words, how can I deliver it and still maintain a viable business model. It looks like Youtube might do that.
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Here’s the real value of Youtube. They do the hosting. Here’s the REAL value of Youtube. It’s available in nearly every country on the planet. Fast. On every device. Fast. And it’s connected to Google Analytics, which tells me where people are watching, what they’re watching on, and even some vague data on who they are. Once I know those things, I can begin to make shows that appeal to them.
That back-end analytic data is what’s making Netflix so much more powerful than the studios. It lets them know if there’s demand for just about any kind of movie you could think of.
Of course, I will make movies that move me, and if I’m lucky, they’ll also connect with an audience. So, all that back-end metrics stuff isn’t a great deal of use to me at this point. However, if things grow, if this business model works… things could change and what I do could be almost a network unto itself.
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Jonathan Schiefer is hard to spell. So is Spiritus Vult. So, I’ve rebranded everything under the name Brand X Industries, or BXI. I bought brandxindustries.com, brandxfilms.com, and brandxmovies.com. They all now point to www.brandxindustries.com, which is built on the Squarespace website that used to be www.thehackermovie.com.
Of course, it wouldn’t be me unless there was one small technical detail I forgot. Today is the day Serafina’s session on Tekzilla went live. They have a huge audience. The Tekzilla website points to www.thehackermovie.com which is currently down because the DNS servers have yet to fully propagate the new name server information. I know what you’re thinking. Blah, blah, science, tech. Blah.
Allow me to translate.
The website is down. It doesn’t go where it’s supposed to. It’s my fault. And the 20,000+ hits that I’d probably be getting from Tekzilla, which is huge, I’m not getting and I look like a tech noob. Or, I look like I wasn’t prepared and all the traffic crashed my servers. Either way, the site is down and I don’t know when it will be back up. It could take up to 2 days.
It’s not a major thing. It’s another small mistake. It’s something I’ll have to make up for when I release ALGORITHM.