Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where's the Money?

The full screen experience

Just a quick post to highlight something I saw this morning..... I read a lot of information about the economics of second screen, streaming distribution......yeah, usually it's a lot of hype and mind numbing information that doesn't really talk about the meat of the matter, where's the money, who's paying and what's the payoff?  So I thought I'd share this link from one of the myriad of people out there (Viaway) looking to distribute and monetize content.  Again, this is more of a "take a look at this" post, than an analysis.  Mostly, I was surprised to see actual numbers for compensation.

I'll summarize [emphasis added by me]:

1. Per minute and subscription royalties:

For professional video content (no cats allowed):  "$0.001 per minute watched.  For example, if 10,000 users watch your 2 hour show, your [sic] earn $1,200."

For professional Audio content: "0.0003 per minute watched. For example, if 10,000 users listen to your 2 hour show, your [sic] earn $360."

2. Pay-per-view royalty (Video on demand)

50% of the rental price of the content.

I don't have a lot of time to talk about this today, however, I think the models do raise interesting questions.  My previous post spoke about the importance of engaging user experience.  When you start talking about per minute or subscription models, it really starts getting interesting.   Now, you're in a marketplace where you're getting paid by the minute watched, in a world where the reality is ever diminishing attention spans for content.  How do you engage viewers long enough to make a profit at $0.0001 per minute per viewer?  Especially if you're content is on a channel which is taking a slice of that?  I'll try to look into this more, I see that that content is offered as a channel in the Roku Channel Store and other places, including via Android and iOS apps.

I honestly have no idea what's happening here, I'd love to hear the overarching vision from someone in-the-know. Fascinating.  Frankly, it is always ominous to me when I see video content listed alongside Pandora, iTune Radio and the other music streaming sites, given what musicians earn from those services.  The subscription options for Viaway are here.

How far are we from a day when you will be able to create your own online channels of content and pay just for the technical infrastructure?  How does this compare to the evolving YouTube advertising type model?  What are the opportunities, or is this just another  treadmill of diminishing income for content creators?  Who will be able to market their content, so it isn't lost in the tsunami of content created every day?  So many questions today.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Directions

"Will it fit?" and other pertinent questions.

Recently, I have alluded to other, non-film projects upon which I have been working.  One project, Saintify, is nearing completion.  It is an iOS app upon which a small team has been has been working for the past year or so, on the side.  It's been an interesting experience for me, juggling technical, creative and producing duties in a completely new medium and on a low budget.  At times, the gear shifting almost was too much: from good old-fashioned issues like creating focused, quality visual imagery and written content on a budget to trying to figure out whether code existed that could make a screen do something cool without breaking the screens around it (thank you,, to trying to figure out how to create pixel level wireframes representing every screen, and every interaction, in Omnigraffle.

Pixel perfect

Some of this work has been directly pertinent to my other media work. Most importantly, the idea of thinking more fully about user experience has helped focus my brain on media creation moving ahead. Visualizing, and planning, how the audience is going to interact with what you create, from beginning to end, and maximizing that experience, is not a part of the creative process which can be glossed over any longer.  On one level, this isn't entirely new.  Great filmmakers already plot their films out carefully, weeding out scenes, lines, words, that don't enhance the audience's experience of the project.  However, now that process has been put on steroids, as audience expectations of what an entertainment experience should be have become more and more complicated.

The audience wants, expects, to actively participate in the process, even if it is just to complain loudly and publicly.  Whether it's an interactive device, crowd-funding projects by their pet director or guiding the conversation about the project in social media, today's audience is no longer just an audience.  They are participants, partners.  Personally, I think it's great.  Anything that focuses creative minds to think more fully about what they're trying to create, and to whom they are trying to communicate is just fine with me.

Sometimes the questions raised are profoundly creative, like finding simple hacks to create a beautiful new experience, and sometimes they're as simple as "will it display correctly on all 7 devices?"  But they are all important.   For some people, I know this is already old hat.  Thankfully, many of those people are generous and share their knowledge online, or in reasonably priced books.  For many of us, it is going to be a matter of survival to learn how to engage our audiences more thoughtfully and to anticipate needs that they haven't even considered.  And integrate it into great stories.  The era of disruption is far from over.  May we all live in interesting times.