Facebook Really Favors Videos Posted on Facebook Over Links to Other Sites

It isn’t news, or surprising, that Facebook would rather show a link to a video that was uploaded to Facebook. What is surprising is just how much more they favor videos uploaded on Facebook over links posted from other sources.

Recently Mobberly Baptist produced a video of kids talking about the Christmas story. It was very well received in our Christmas presentations, so we posted it online. It was posted on Vimeo, Youtube and uploaded to Facebook the same morning. The Facebook video was posted to the church’s page. And several people posted the Youtube link to Facebook.

The content has been fairly popular on Facebook. As I write this, the view count is over 26,000 for the Facebook uploaded video. On Youtube, however, the view count is about 200. That is a huge disparity. it’s the exact same content, both shared through Facebook. The Youtube video was probably shared a few other places, but not many. yet the FB video upload has been see many more times over than the link to the YT clip.

Now, this isn’t scientific. But generally, it’s safe to say that if you want a video to be seen as much as possible on Facebook then upload it there.

By the way, the video is really entertaining. Give it a view down below, at FB or Youtube:

Facebook Link

 

 

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Why We Shouldn’t Have Won the NRB Media Award for Best Creative TV Programming

NRB-Award-2013-410x410Last week National Religious Broadcasters announced that Peculiar would receive a 2014 NRB Media Award for Best Creative TV Programming. That’s a huge honor.

NRB has been around for 70 years. Every year they give out awards for various categories in the different media disciplines. Getting one is kind of a big deal in some circles. This isn’t some fly by night organization that just decided do some awards.

So, when I first heard we had won, I was surprised, pleased, proud of my team. What we did with a volunteer cast and crew on a micro budget is amazing by anyone’s standards.

But then I realized… We shouldn’t have won.

Not because we had done something wrong, or it didn’t meet the criteria, or anything like that. We shouldn’t have won because we shouldn’t have been the best program submitted.

I’m not blind. I can see the other winners in other categories. Any objective comparison of production quality will show that we are not in the same ballpark. Of course, they are using millions of dollars in equipment with a decent budget while we got by on borrowed gear and a dream. Nothing wrong with that, but we are not in the same league.

Now, I know creativity and story can overcome lack of production values. It doesn’t matter if the video is mind blowing if the story stinks. A bad story would still stink, no matter how good it looked. We can see that every year on major networks. They spend millions producing pilots that look amazing but don’t get picked up because they don’t work, aren’t good, etc…

But let me just be transparent. I am not the most creative guy alive. Sure, I can come up with a good idea. But for my first show out of the gate to win this award, well, color me shocked. I know I need to learn more about writing, directing, producing, and everything else. There are better producers, writers, directors, show runners out there. There are more creative people out there.

In Christian TV there aren’t a lot of shows like Peculiar. I can count on one hand the number of Christian sitcoms I have seen, and have fingers left. Same goes for Christian dramas. For whatever reason, there just aren’t many in production. But there should be.

I know that in Christian TV a lot of money changes hands. Some of the major networks, they take in millions and millions on the course of the year.

What if some of these networks or stations took just a portion of their budget, and hired producers to create creative programming? And took a bit more of the budget and earmarked it for production?

Imagine if a network set aside $1 million, and hired 5 show runners to produce 5 different series of shows (13 episodes each). Imagine if they set aside a one decent salary and a $100,000 budget for production.

Don’t tell me it can’t be done for that. I produced 10 episodes for under $9000 total. If some had handed me a $100,000 budget and paid me a salary, imagine what we could have done. Peculiar would be the same show, but 10 times better.

And don’t tell me they don’t have it. I know it would require retooling the budget, obviously. But there are networks that have it. And it could be focused on making new programming, creative programming. It’s a matter of priorities. Is it a priority to reach generations we are missing with our current content? (I am really trying to resist the urge to sermonize about this point…)

Of course, the question immediately follows: A network or station taking $100,000 earmarked for something else and investing in a new venture? What’s the return on investment? How do you recoup the money?

At first, you don’t.

The Christian TV market isn’t set up to do normal TV. As the station/network you can fill break slots with fundraising content and provoke some viewers to send in money. But that sort of thing is dying off. Younger viewers are not as likely to respond to that sort of request.

Maybe the key is selling digital copies? Maybe working with a distributor to get a DVD placed, and digital versions available for purchase on iTunes and the like.

Maybe it’s doing more “enhanced underwriting”. What’s enhanced underwriting?

Here’s an excerpt from an article on transition.fcc.gov:

“In 1984, the FCC granted stations more flexibility by adopting a policy of “enhanced underwriting,” which permitted noncommercial stations to broadcast donor and underwriter acknowledgements from for-profit entities. These acknowledgments can include logograms and slogans that identify, but do not promote, sponsoring businesses. They may include business location information, value-neutral descriptions of a product line or service, and brand and trade names along with product or service listings. That is why some underwriting messages resemble ads. Subjects that cannot be mentioned in underwriting announcements include price information, such as discounts, rebates, and interest rates; calls to action; inducements to buy, sell, rent, or lease; and any language that states or implies favor- able comparisons to other like businesses or competitors.”

A show that has viewers can attract sponsors. If the content is driving viewers to the station, then the underwriting becomes a good option for sponsors. This is a delicate balance. You don’t want to do something you shouldn’t or that’s not permitted on the non profit station, but you can do some sponsorships. Plus there is no limit to how you can advertise on the station’s website.

Obviously, an education license station can’t switch to all entertainment programming. There has to be a lot of teaching programs on the air or the station is in danger of losing its license. But creative programming can be done, and done for less money that you would expect. And that’s what younger audiences want to watch.

Being selected for this award is a huge honor. I am so grateful and humbled by it. I couldn’t be prouder of the work my team did on the show. But we shouldn’t have been the best show submitted. We shouldn’t have won because there should be better creative programming than ours on Christian TV.

It’s Dead, it Just Doesn’t Know it Yet

model tombstoneThe paid time/donor model for Christian TV broadcasting is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.

I know there are program producers and stations and networks that will vehemently disagree with me on this. That’s OK. Eventually, no one will be able to deny this. There are some programs that are still working, but others are reworking what they do because of dropping donations. And it will only get “worse” as time passes.

The practice of paying non-profit, education license TV stations for a block of time, and then asking viewers to buy something or give something to your organization so you can continue to afford to make shows and buy time… is dead. Or at least on life support.

I recently described paid time/donor shows as having a limited shelf life (I’m mixing my metaphors.). These aren’t the same as churches producing teaching/worship shows. Those will always be around, because churches will continue to invest their budget into extending their ministry into their community. But the ones without the church backing, that rely only on donations from viewers, on selling things. Those will become less and less viable. Viewers who faithfully watch and support teaching programs with money are shrinking. They are literally dying off. And as the viewing and giving habits of younger audience members begin to have more of an impact on religious stations, things will begin to change.

The model to replace it hasn’t been fully formed yet. I had hoped to get in on the cusp of that new model, but those of us making shows that we are not buying time for are kind of out on the rough seas, looking for a harbor. (I know, I’m mixing my metaphors again. How about we’re in a private room in the maternity ward, hoping to check out of the hospital? No? You know what I mean.)

Today another network, CTN-Lifestyle, will start broadcasting my show, Peculiar. Not in the middle of the night, but during primetime and 3 bonus times. This cost me nothing but the time to email and ask, and then upload the programs. OK, it also cost me the time, effort, and resources to produce the programs.

This brings the number of networks (groups broadcasting the show to more than one market at a time) broadcasting Peculiar to 5. With 3 individual stations either already broadcasting, or about to start. With more in conversation. The amount of money spent by me to buy this air time is $0.00. It is possible to place programming that appeals to a younger audience on religious stations without buying it.

The flip side is that we cannot expect support from viewers who just want to write us a check. So, how can we afford to make more programs? Even at the super micro budget we had for Peculiar, that’s still a chunk to recoup… and then make enough on top of that to afford to make more episodes.

I did have one network give me a little bit of money for the show. Just enough to cover closed captioning. But that is not the norm. I really want to vent about the realities of Christian TV and it’s upside down funding model. I will restrain myself, and simply say that it stinks.

Retail? I wouldn’t bet on it. So far retails sales of my show’s DVD have been slow. It may eventually make back what we spent to create the show, but not any time soon. Unknown actors, unknown show, unknown director… very hard to reach a tipping point in publicity. For profit company broadcasting on non profit stations, so there’s no direct sales through the broadcast. Someone more skilled in marketing of this kind of thing may have better luck.

So, stations won’t buy it (cause most can’t afford to) and retail is sluggish. Netflix and the like aren’t much better. You might… might… get $10,000 for a streaming deal. That might cover your current production costs, but it won’t cover production for the future. So what’s left?

I’m not sure.

I do know that Christian radio stations sell spots… I mean, provide informational announcements for underwriting sponsors. Maybe a TV show can do something similar? Why not? I’ve spoken with one local religious stations about this. It’s possible. But likely that would be a station to station proposition, and not something that larger networks would consider. Not at this point anyway.

I don’t know the answer. But with the current model on life support, and more and more opportunity for new programming to air, we need to figure it out soon.

What do you think?

I Need Your Help

help imageI posted a way that you can help me with my show.

Here’s part of that post:

Peculiar doesn’t ask for money. In fact, pretty much the only way we will see any money for the show is if people buy the DVD. Peculiar is a relatively unknown show with unknown actors and an unknown director. A lot of people don’t even know it exists. People you know don’t know it exists.

That’s how you can help. You can tell them about it.

I will make it super easy for you. Below are some sample posts you can use on twitter, Facebook and send out via email. You can write your own, or just copy and paste these. Send them out to your friends, family and acquaintances.

Why am I asking this? Simple, if we sell enough DVDs, we can make more shows like Peculiar. You can help make sure that happens.

Sample Posts:

twitter:

Option 1: Check out this Christian sitcom called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 2: Here’s a new show I really like called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 3: You should buy a DVD of this new show called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Facebook:

Option1: Check out this Christian sitcom called Peculiar. It’s a show about a college kid whose life is different: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option2: This show I like, Peculiar, has a DVD available: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 3: If you’re looking for a way to support independent Christian TV, check out a DVD of Peculiar: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Email:

Hey, you should check out this new show, Peculiar. It’s a Christian sitcom about a college kid whose life is different. The first 6 episodes are available on DVD. They even come with Bible study questions. It’s an independent show, so they are selling DVDs to raise mony to make more shows like this. Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

That’s it. Just copy and paste those and send them to the people you know. Or write your own. Buy you can be a huge help, just getting the word out.

Thanks!

Scott Link

July 16th the DVD of the 1st Season of Peculiar Releases!

4580D Heartbeat.qxdOn July 16th the first 6 episodes of Peculiar will be available in the Christian Book market. Already you can preorder it at CBD. They don’t have a picture yet, but you can reserve you copy right now.

That’s pretty cool. I mean, it’s not quite as cool as strolling into a Christian bookstore and seeing it on the shelf. But it’s on the web, available for anyone to get, right now.

And it’s not just on the web, but it’s in places that are past gatekeepers. Not everyone has a DVD available on CBD, or any other Christian bookseller.

I know I didn’t do this alone. If it hadn’t been for God’s favor and the willingness of people to help, this wouldn’t exist.

I am pretty excited about this, and cannot wait until July 16th!

New Old Funding Model for Christian TV

I’ve been producing a show for the past several months. we are smack in the middle of a crazy production schedule, and expect episodes to start dropping the week of October 15th.

The interesting thing about making a TV show without network backing is that things cost money. You don’t actually make any money. And Christian stations don’t/won’t buy the show. So at best you get airtime for free. But on educational license stations, for-profit shows cannot even sell dvd copies of their program. I was stuck trying to figure out how to create a revenue stream.

Not because I want to get rich making TV. I need to have positive cash flow so that we can afford to keep making more episodes. And yes, at some point I would like to be able to do this for a living. Up until now the only revenue stream I will have is through youtube views.

Today I was talking to a friend who owns several Christian TV stations. He recounted a story from back when he was working for a major network affiliate where he traded a religious program air time. The station didn’t buy the show, but rather gave the producer 3:00 minutes worth of ad time. They could sell the spots, and pocket the ad revenue. The station sold the remaining spots.

That got me to thinking. Why couldn’t we do the same thing now?

I get an ad agency to negotiate a 30:00 slot on a weekend for a few commercial stations. They get 3:00 and I get 3:00. I sell six :30 spots in that market (or later as we grow, sell regional spots to larger companies). The sponsors write a check to the ad agency. They take their commission and send the rest of the money on to me.

Let’s say we can sell the spots for $100 each (Just a round number. This is probably too high.) So the episode bills out $600 for one week of play. The ad agency takes 10% and we see $520 come in. Obviously, if we grow this too much it gets out of control. So we hire someone to sell ads for 10%. So we see $480 come in. Per stations, every week. That’s a best case scenario.

Expand to 10 stations and we are tracking $4800 per week. Suddenly we can pay people to be a part of the show. Even at $50 per spot, we would be at $2400. Those are numbers we can work with. I’d take $25 a spot… $1200 per week.

There are still a lot of details to work out, but if this could work… we could do this for real, for the forseeable future.

UPDATE: Of course, finding a station that feels the same way is not that easy. So I have been figuring out, anyway.

My Show

Did I mention I have a show idea, finally? One that I haven’t discarded within a week? I do. Plus I have a few characters lined out, and the pilot plot outline, as well as a start on the script. And even themes for the first 13 episodes.

It’s a sitcom, based on a college student. The idea sprung from a conversation with Eric Bramlett at this year’s Exponential conference. This was right after his parody of Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” had come out, and I had lamented the fact that Christians don’t believe in comedy. I know, some do, but the capital “C” church as a whole doesn’t seem to. Aside from kids shows, I can’t name one Christian comedy movie.

So after we chatted over a Coca Cola (That’s what I had anyway) I kept looking for a show idea. I just kept coming back to doing a comedy. I think that a reality show might be easier, not that any show would be easy. But a comedy has all the elements of a drama, but also has to be funny. I need actual actors and sets and scripts that are funny.

That’s the clincher. I can pretty much get people to watch anything, once (given enough advertising muscle). But it has to be good. And since i want non Christians to watch, has to be interesting to them and not cheesy. It has to be funny. So I’m working on it. I had a writer friend of mine look at some ideas. Once I get some more stuff fleshed out I may ask him and his writing partner to help me finish the first script.

Then I need to find some people who can catch the vision, some prayer warrior types. And I need some people with money. I was thinking about using Kickstarter. Of course, I need a budget, and actors, and a crew… and help. But one step at a time.

Target audience of 18-34 year olds who use social media. Delivery through the internet. Funny, compelling comedy that views characters from a biblical perspective. That’s the dream.

Summer of Discontent: Running iOS5 Beta

I jumped in. A friend of a friend is a developer for iOS, and he had a couple extra device spots for a beta tester, so I signed up. I upgraded my iPhone 4 and iPad (original) to the iOS5 beta. It took me all of half a second to decide to do it.

The Dangers:
Now, a few days in, I can tell you I will never be so fast to jump in again. At least with my iPad. I just need to know the apps on there work. I lost several apps that are key to my work flow. I don’t have to have most of them on my iPhone, but I use them on the iPad daily. I don’t blame the app developers (And I for sure don’t go post negative reviews on the app store about it!), they should not have to support a beta software. That’s why it’s a beta. I should have updated one and not the other. But I wanted to play with iMessage and sync docs back and forth through iCloud.

But my iPad isn’t a toy. I use it for work. Suddenly key apps did not work. I know that they will work again, but for now I’m out of luck. I am waiting eagerly for the next version of the beta, hoping it magically fixes these important-to-me apps. Take it from me, rushing headlong into beta testing is not smart.

Now running it on my iPhone, that is another story.

The Cool Factor:
There is something narciisiticlly nice about being the center of attention. People gather around as you demonstrate the features they have been hearing about in the newest version of iOS. They cannot get this new thing for months, but they want it and you have it. There are enough parts of the new beta working that you can show it off, but just be sure not to expect glitch free bragging. Invariably, something will drop. That’s OK, this is a beta. It’s not supposed to be perfect. And it is cool.

Useful:
One of the reasons I wanted to do this is to use the features mentioned in the keynote. iOS5 is going to be amazing. I would go on about how cool it is, but I don’t want to say too much.

The NDA:
The Non Disclosure Agreement is pretty intense. I don’t blame Apple. Beta software isn’t perfect, and no company wants people complaining about what may or may not be working. So, I won’t be talking much about it, even though some blogs feel free to say plenty.

In the meantime I eagerly await the next version of the beta, in hopes that my summer won’t be completely jacked up by my impetuousness. I’d roll my iPad back, if I could. But, in the meantime I wait, and use alternative apps to get my work done. Oh, and enjoy a great new iOS from Apple.

Cutting the Cord

We are going finally do it. We are going to finally get rid of cable TV, completely. I think.

When Hulu Plus came to the Xbox, all my excuses went away. Between that and Roku, I can see it in the living room and the bedroom. No need to pull out a computer, just grab a remote.

That seems to be the trigger for acceptance in my home. If we have to pull the laptop out and watch it there, we won’t. We never got Netflix until we had devices that could stream it. Just never thought it was worth it. But when we tried it with streaming, we loved it.

With Netflix and Hulu Plus we can see just about every show or movie we want. We have been hanging on to cable for access to local news and sports. I know justin.tv will stream most games, but I cannot stand to watch the quality. I pulled out a set of powered rabbit ears and hooked them up. We don’t get a lot of over the air channels.

My big question is what happens when football season comes around. My little set of rabbit ears still picks up a few channels, including Fox. But CBS is not strong enough for viewing. At least I can watch some games. If we choose to leave cable internet for DSL I may look at an exterior antenna. I could insert that signal into the existing cable network in my home.

Either way, missing out on a few channels isn’t that big of a deal for us, since we routinely load episodes of our favorite shows into our queues. But for some families, missing out on channel surfing is a problem.

I read an article a while back about some families who were in an experiment. They got various Internet TV boxes/services and cut cable. Then reported their experiences. Their main complaint was that watching TV became active. They could not just flip channels and watch something. This is a huge change from normal TV viewing.

My Netflix queue has dozens of titles in it. When I am bored on the computer, or remember a show, I’ll surf to the site and add things to the queue. Right now it would take us weeks to watch everything that is loaded without ever loading another show.

Still, having a lot of shows you want to watch isn’t the same as flipping channels, though. I was talking about this with some people at lunch the other day. One said that we needed Pandora for TV. That’s not a bad idea. Some sort of Netflix “Suggestions for You” on overkill. Just select a show, and then get a list shows like that one to try. Sort of like Apple’s Genius playlists generated from ratings you submit. Still won’t be quite the same as flipping, but would provide some of that random stumble upon a show experience.

The biggest annoyance of Hulu Plus is that even though you pay a monthly fee, not every show is available for viewing everywhere. Some are web only. Scanning through available networks I was so happy to see shows from the speed network. I promptly added a few. Only to realize that they were available to view only through the website. Epic fail.

It’s bad enough that I still have to sit through commercials (although if you have cable TV you pay more for the privilege of sitting through more ads.) but any show available on Hulu.com should be valuable to your premium subscribers. Some of the web only shows were not current season, first-run, they were older episodes from older show. It is just a matter of what rights Hulu had been granted.

But Netflix doesn’t have that problem. And some shows that are web only in Hulu are available on any screen through Netflix. Looks like Hulu needs to get better at negotiating.

Still, paired together, Hulu Plus and Netflix should take care of most people’s needs for video entertainment. The easier it is for people to watch this content, the more people will adopt it. The cable companies have a small window to figure out how to stay in the video content delivery business. Some providers have been trying, but there is a lot of mush out there right now.

Netflix and Hulu Plus provide an alternative to cable/satellite providers that is available right now.

I’ll keep you updated.