Here’s a quick primer on making your film available for download or streaming. Download means you make it so that your film will reside on someone’s computer or device. Depending on someone’s internet connection it might take a while for them to access your content, however, this method is good in that once your audience has it, they have it and in high quality. Your film won’t be subject to choppy video, stops and starts etc.
In order to do this all you need is to upload your film to your website, create a link to the file and it’s available for people to download. iTunes is another popular way to make your content available for download onto a PC. iTunes only works with aggregators to get film content, unlike music where they are far more open. So you will have to submit your film to an aggregator who will then submit it to iTunes for approval. Examples of aggregators are Indieflix, Distribber and New Video Group. Oh, that’s another thing to notice, Apple has to approve your film. This process is not instantaneous but I have heard 2 weeks is about the average amount of time. There are ways around this though.
How do I make money on iTunes?
When you make your content available for download, you can charge people before they download it. iTunes has this capability built in. iTunes does a 70%/ 30% split with the content creator getting 70% of the price. The aggregator may take a portion of this depending on their business model or they may just charge you a flat fee for getting it up there. Something else to consider with respect to iTunes is that your content will be available on “only” the 187 million or so iDevices at the time of this writing.
How do I make money on VODO?
VODO is another way to make your film available for download. It leverages BitTorrent the peer-to-peer sharing network (like Napster of yore). All you have to do is upload your film. I am not aware of an approval process. The content will be free, but you can ask people to donate/sponsor you or make related items available for sale. VODO will take a 25% cut. See Sita Sings the Blues or The Yes Men Save the World for good examples of selling related items for free content.
Streaming your film online
Streaming means you make it available without download. Your content is displayed on a player. YouTube and Vimeo are examples of this. Sometimes a user has to wait for the content to load and then it will play, while other players (like Netflix Watch Instantly) use that technology makes it so that your users don’t have to wait for the content to load. It’s my personal favorite. Besides Netflix, sites like YouTube and Vimeo make it fairly easy to upload your content and make it available. Netflix, like iTunes only works with aggregators, so you will have to use one of them to get your content on Netflix. Like iTunes, it’s also subject to approval.
I told you why I like streaming, here is why you should like it. Many players are embeddable so it makes it easy for people to share your content. If a blogger is covering your film, they can include either a trailer or the entire film by embedding the player on their blog. There are some that will allow you to distribute your film on Facebook. YouTube and Vimeo are, Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand are not. It’s also always best to take advantage of people’s need for instant gratification. Streaming does this nicely.
How do you make money streaming your film online?
Here I will just talk about how to do that from the perspective of the capabilities of the technology. There are other ways besides these. Some players will embed ads in your content and you will get money for that. Some players like Hulu will pay some fractional amount every time your content is viewed. Some players like Distrify and Dynamo have monetization built in. This is the best of both worlds, it gives you an ability to monetize your content in a meaningful way and allows your content to be shared easily. They both have embeddable players. You set the price for your viewing of your content over a rental period and upon clicking a person is offered the opportunity to stream your film at a cost. They both do a 70/30 split similar to iTunes. Here’s a How To for Distrify.
Be sure you have the correct distribution rights
If you are totally self-distributing your film then this isn’t an issue for you, but if you aren’t and you want to distribute your film online then you must retain SVOD or streaming video on demand rights to your film. I highly recommend carving these out for yourself.
One thing to note is that for many of these, you’ll have to do your own promotion and marketing. That is, it’s fine and dandy to get your film on iTunes but it doesn’t mean anyone will know it’s there. Apple will not help you in this regard.
In addition, if you put your content up on a site with a lot of other content you have competition for attention.
All righty I think that’s enough for now. Stay tuned for a post on AP Online Film Distribution. In the meantime let me know if you think this is something you might do? If not, why not?