To Prime or not to Prime: TVOD vs SVOD in Indie Filmmaking

Trying to make back the money it costs to produce an independent film is hard.

People expect entertainment for free. Really, I should say “free” instead. Nothing is free, but it’s not normally something people pay for at the time of consuming the entertainment. They pay a monthly (Netflix, Hulu) or annual (Amazon) fee, but when they sit down to watch a movie or show, there’s no transaction. Youtube is free, social media is free, even TV is free, if you don’t count paying for cable or satellite, or dealing with advertising.

Studios spend millions on overcoming this expectation. It takes a big amount of interest to trigger someone buying a movie instead of just “netflixing” it. And, I have found, it takes a lot of interest to trigger the purchase or rental of an indie documentary.

My film has been in the TVOD window, or Transactional Video On Demand window- meaning people who want to watch it must buy or rent it. I’m considering when to move to the next widow, which is SVOD and AVOD, or Subscription VOD or Advertising Supported VOD. It’s a big decision because the difference in margins is pretty large. In TVOD the split between platform and filmmaker ranges from 50-90%, depending on platform. Amazon Video is 50%. So if you rent a movie for $2, the filmmaker gets $1. Amazon Prime royalties are paid by the amount of time watched. And that royalty varies based on a number of factors Amazon calls an engagement score.

Given its current engagement score on Amazon, my documentary would generate $0.05 per hour of streamed video. (Max possible is $0.10) So, I would be making right at $0.08 per viewing of my entire film. (If someone watches part of it, then the royalty will be adjusted.) That means to make more money from SVOD/Prime than rentals ($1) I would need to have my film viewed 12 times on Prime vs rented one time.

Sounds crazy right? How can anyone expect a movie to be viewed 12 times as much as it is rented just by making it available to Prime subscribers?

Part of my issue is that most of the initial rush of purchases have already happened. People who already know about the movie have already decided to buy or rent it. To generate more rentals or purchases I have to introduce someone to the movie and then get them interested enough to spend money on the transaction. I have to trigger someone to overcome their expectation of free entertainment. Opening the SVOD/AVOD window could bypass that, but will it generate revenue?

So, I did a little survey among my friends. These are people I can easily reach through organic means (not paid) on social media and email. I asked 5 simple questions. There was a definite trend.

I should mention this is far from a perfect or scientific survey. It’s a snapshot of what people I know think about watching independent films. It’s also a bit skewed by the number of filmmakers who are included in the survey, so keep that in mind when reading the results. I will break that down a bit more as the article goes on.

29 total responses.

Survey results with filmmakers included:

29 responses. 3 people had give money toward a crowdfunding campaign for film. 12 had been in or helped make a film. 14 had never been involved with film before.

96.5% use an SVOD service like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.
75% did not use an AVOD platform, like Crackle or Tubi.

65% said they either had or were willing to spend money an indie film (TVOD)
27% said the either had or were willing to watch an indie film on a “free” streaming platform. (SVOD/AVOD)
92% are open to watching your movie, if they are interested.

75% said they would rather watch an indie film on SVOD/AVOD.

Then I took out all of the filmmakers in the survey, leaving 17 responses.

53% said they either had or were willing to spend money an indie film (TVOD)
41% said the either had or were willing to watch an indie film on a “free” streaming platform. (SVOD/AVOD)
94% of these non-filmmakers are open to watching your movie, if they are interested enough. (That’s up 2% from when looking at the responses with filmmakers included… Weird)

76% said they would rather watch an indie film on SVOD/AVOD.

OK, so what does that mean?

Not a lot of people watch AVOD. Almost everyone has an SVOD service.

A lot of people say they will buy or rent an indie film, if they are interested enough. But in both versions of the survey, basically 3/4 say they would prefer to watch it through SVOD/AVOD. That makes sense, right? I’m already paying for the subscription, it’s easy to just add it and watch.

So while more than half are willing to consider spending money on your movie, it’s always going to be easier to get people to watch in SVOD. And, especially among friends and family, you can capture those TVOD transactions early.

Bottom line: After the initial rush of purchases by your committed fans, open the film up to SVOD. This should trigger the next level of fans, who might watch but are hesitant to pay money to watch.


Why Did Netflix Apologize Now?

Yesterday, I started my day off with breakfast and an apology. A few months after Netflix stirred up quite a bit of unhappiness, they finally got around to saying sorry, and trying to explain why they are raising the prices on their loyal customers.

Here’s the apology/explanation part:

“So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service. [Editorial- Read:”We can’t get permission to stream our entire DVD catalog.”]

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.”

OK, was that so hard? I still don’t like the increase, but we will keep our plans, for now.

But why did my new best friend Reed send this out now?

Well ever since the news that Netflix had lost about a million DVD subscribers, stocks haven’t been doing so well. It seems a million customers decided they really didn’t need DVDs by mail after all. And Netflix sent out a report showing a larger than expected drop. You see, long term this is what Netflix wants. They want out of the mailing business. Here is a chart from back in 2010:

They expect(ed) DVD mailing to peak within a couple of years. And then decline over the next decade or so.

Once they split the DVD and streaming businesses under the Netflix name, and saw a million people opt out of DVD by mail, investors saw their stock drop 14% or so. Uh-oh. Netflix means to phase DVD mailing out anyway, but the more this part of their business declines (which is what they want) the less solid their stocks are (which they don’t want). Netflix has a problem.

Up in the sky! It’s a bird! No, a plane! No, it’s a poorly named spin off here to save the good name of Netflix. Qwikster is here!

The second half of the apology letter announced that Netflix was distancing themselves even more from DVDs by mail. That’s what really makes a good apology, back end it with even more bad news for your customers. Now, if they want to keep DVD streaming, they need to log into a totally different website. Integration is so last decade.

Oddly, even after this new Quikster launch, stocks did even worse.

But does Netflix care? A few weeks from now people who do DVDs by mail will be getting them with the new Quikster logo. Netflix will continue to work on deals to stream more content. And people will adjust. Then next quarter when Qwikster shows another decline in subscribers, Netflix stock will not be affected. Because Netflix will be a video streaming site, and it’s perception will be that they don’t have anything to do with mailing DVDs.

I think that is why we got this email apology now. It would have made more sense for Mr. Hastings to have sent this months ago, but they used an apology to soften the extra bit of hassle DVD subscribers were going to have to endure.

“Hey, we are so sorry that we raised our prices by 60% and then ignored all the protest about it, but here’s another minor inconvenience for you. Maybe you won’t notice that we just fire walled ourselves off from the continued decline of DVD by mail subscriptions.”

It’s the last part of the quote above that’s telling:

“So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.”

They could just as well have said, “We realize that streaming is the future even if our investors don’t, so we have split the two businesses. Now we can let the DVD side die off without impacting our stock prices.” Remember the graph, back in 2010 they were projecting the death, not growth, of DVD mailing.

Long term this is probably a very smart move for Netflix. Sure, I won’t like going to Qwikster’s site to handle my DVD queue. But in a few years, I won’t need DVDs by mail, I’ll be streaming all my content.

“Dear Netflix” – This is a Test

Yesterday Netflix announced new pricing for its content. The reaction was immediate and loud.

Since then “Dear Netflix” has been a top trending topic on twitter and their Facebook page has gotten tens of thousands of negative comments. So as a company that appeals to people who want to stream content online, and has multiple social media accounts, I would have thought they would have been all over this.

I mean, the blog posts and email I got was so full of positive spin on how this was a good thing for me, I expected to see more of that. Instead there hasn’t been an echo from them, as far as I can see. No tweets, no replies, just silence as the social world repeatedly smacks them for raising prices.

Where are the posts about how you just renewed a bunch of the streaming content? How about defending the move? Or acknowledging that the circumstances about this stink for many of us? How about a straightforward admission that it costs a lot of money to get this streaming content, and they needed more revenue? Something?

Netflix is very quiet. How they respond is critical to their reputation online, which really matters for a video streaming company.

Dear Netflix, “Dear Netflix” is a test. Don’t fail it.

Dear Netflix- An Open Letter From a Loyal Subscriber

Dear Netflix,

Today, after a few websites leaked the news, you officially announced a new pricing scheme for your subscriptions.

Before I get into the meat of this, let me acknowledge two things: Netflix (or something like it) is the future of video entertainment. Netflix, as a for profit company offering a non essential service, has the right to charge whatever they want and I can pay it or cancel my subscription.

That being said, what is the deal, Netflix? In less than one year you have almost doubled my monthly subscription cost? I’ve gone from $9 to $10, and now come September I will be paying $16 for the same service I once paid $9 for. Please don’t dress it up by saying:

“Since then we have realized that there is still a very large continuing demand for DVDs both from our existing members as well as non-members. Given the long life we think DVDs by mail will have, treating DVDs as a $2 add on to our unlimited streaming plan neither makes great financial sense nor satisfies people who just want DVDs.”

That is bunk. There is no need to eliminate the Streaming+DVD plans just to create DVD only plans.

To be fair, when I started paying $9 the streaming content was not as robust as it is now. And I did not complain when the modest $1 a month increase hit. I understand that acquiring new content for streaming is expensive, and some studios want a lot of money for the right to let us watch their shows and movies.

I know that’s why you are raising the prices. I think that you hope two things will happen. Either people will choose streaming only options, giving you more leverage with studios about the number of streaming viewers or they will pay more, giving you more money to buy the rights to more shows for streaming.

But there is a third thing that will also happen: people will cancel their subscriptions completely. If the comments on the blog I linked to are any indication, a lot of people are thinking about it. But you already know that don’t you:

“As always, our members can easily choose to change or cancel their unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both…”

Here is my dilemma. I would rather just stream all of my content. I have devices on all of my TVs that can stream from Netflix. I normally maintain over 50 titles in my queue, mostly TV shows. I love it. But, I want the new releases as well. I want to get a new DVD release sometime within a few months of its release date. So we have the single disc plan as well. Now because you have seen fit to split their service, I get to pay twice for those services. No discount. If the streaming content was almost as much as the available DVD content, I would just stop getting the discs, but it’s not.

It’s not nearly as much. Thats why you need to raise money and grow their number of “only-streaming” subscribers, so you can increase the amount of streaming content. But that means making people mad, and you may lose subscribers. Which weakens your position with the studios and lessens the monthly income. People who don’t want to pay $16 are going to be mad that they are losing access to content they have had previously. They are not going to be satisfied with the current streaming catalog, which is why you need to take steps to increase the catalog… by raising revenue, etc… I get the catch 22 you are in.

I would not mind paying a bit more. I like the way the catalog of streaming content has been expanding. But you should offer a discount for people who want to keep both streaming and discs. At least until the streaming content catches up with the available disc content.

Meanwhile I’m going to sit back and hope you bow to the public pressure that’s coming your way. I’m going to console myself with the fact that in reality, even $16 a month is a fraction of what it would cost to go to a local store and rent the same content for viewing that I get from you every month. I’m going to continue to ignore the reoccurring issues with streaming to an Apple TV 2. And I’m going to relish the thought that if you mess this up, someone else will come along and provide the same service you do, better, for less.

Right now you’re leading the pack, today you stumbled.



I received this form email tonight (Not in response to anything, I’m sure everyone got one):

“We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:

Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $7.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You don’t need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team”

At least this one sounds little more accurate: “separate plans to better reflect the costs of each.” Of course it would be probably more accurate if they just said, “To pay for buying more streaming licenses.”

WWDC Keynote: What Would I Like?

[Check out my Post WWDC Keynote report.]

On Monday Steve Jobs is scheduled to deliver a keynote during the WWDC, 10 AM PST. (That’s 1:00 Pm EST for us East Coast people.) Apple has indicated that this address will be completely about software. It will be concerning Lion, iOS 5, and the new iCloud service. If I had my way, what would we hear on Monday?

Last year Apple lifted the lid on its latest OS, Lion. They showed off a lot of features that had been influenced by the touch interface they pioneered with iOS devices. There are rumors that this will be a very inexpensive upgrade, and may be available through the Mac App Store. I am pretty stoked about the touch integration. I have my track pad ready to go. I just need to not to be so different that it breaks all my production applications.

I think this will be available, in whatever form and price, the same day of the event.

iOS 5:
Apple needs to make a few improvements here. iOS is still a great operating system, but competitors have been gaining.

Supposedly Apple is completely reworking the widgets and notifications system. That is one of the major gripes people I know have about the iPhone. Android users can do all sorts of custom interfaces, but Apple has us in a very tight box. I’m used to that box, but wouldn’t mind a bit of room. I would love the ability to change up the lock screen. A few more options on how notifications work would be great, as well.

I have been hearing rumors about wireless syncing. Someone said it would only be through an Apple Time Capsule, but I cannot imagine Apple making that mistake. Forcing iOS users to buy another device just to get wireless syncing would be a mistake. I’d like to be able to sync my devices to my computer over a wifi network. (Or through a cloud based service?)

Having just gone through this, I’d like for them to address the way you move iOS devices from one machine to another. I just upgraded my laptop, and after syncing my devices and reloading them, all of my folders were gone. I still have not gotten everything back to normal.

We will be waiting a couple of months for this to drop.

This is the big one. I expect this won’t be ready to roll out for a couple of months but it won’t be too long because Apple really has had some pressure put on them by Amazon and Google. Neither of those cloud based streaming services are perfect, but they both offer some nice features. Apple will have to match those, and beat them, quickly.

Unlike Amazon and Google, Apple seems to have landed most (or all) of the major record labels. This should pave the way for Apple to bypass the individual locker file system, so they can store one copy of most songs on a few servers, where we who have purchased the song can stream it. Of course, this would only work with songs we have bought from iTunes. Anything else, from music to pictures to video, would be uploaded and stored by each customer.

I have been hearing a price of $20-25 annually, which is in line with the Amazon price structure. I expect songs bought through iTunes would be available for streaming without hitting whatever storage level you have. This should completely replace Mobile Me. There will be some levels of service that are free (like “Find my Phone”) and that may include a small amount of storage. Probably similar to Amazon’s 5GB level.

At the very least it must be able to do what Amazon and Google can. I am a little excited about the possibility of an integrated iOS Cloud solution. I dropped to a 16GB model iPhone this last upgrade because I have a 64GB iPad. But with my apps and content, I sometimes find storing all my music on the phone difficult. But the interface with the Amazon cloud leaves a lot to be desired. I would love a seamless experience of listening to my music on the phone, whether from files stored locally or stored in the cloud.

And, I would love to be able to stream video from the cloud to my Apple TV. Did I mention I have hundreds of GBs of videos? That ability would push me to buy a much larger storage plan. But, like many Apple services, I doubt this will be available day one.

Speaking of Apple TV:
It’s time to move this device to an app based system. I would love to see a totally new operating system. One that borrows from Roku and boxee’s channel model. One where I can add or delete all sorts of online media content. With Airplay and iCloud as its centerpiece, users could set up Netflix, Hulu Plus, and any number of other channels. I don’t expect Apple to open it up to the extent that Roku has with private channels, but this is definitely a direction I’d like to see.

One More Thing:
Of course there will be one more thing. And I think it will be the long awaited iPhone 5 announcement. (Or will it be the iPhone 4S?) Announced Monday with a fall release date. Delayed by the entrance of Verizon this year, it’s time for the annual upgrade to the iPhone line up. It will be a sort of slide-grade. I think the new model will be 64GB max, with the same processor the iPad 2 uses. I expect an 8 megapixel camera, but probably still 720p video resolution. I don’t think we will see a huge change. Some have suggested a larger display, but that won’t be until the next model. Oh, and the antenna thing will be fixed.

Unless, the old rumors of a smaller iPhone are true. Imagine an iPhone Nano, without much local storage, but tied to your iCloud account? Probably not, but iCloud does open some doors.

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 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 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.

Thanks, Netflix… I Guess…

I saw on twitter last night, and awoke this morning to find an email from Netflix offering compensation for the outage subscribers experienced the other night. I was a bit frustrated when I couldn’t stream my queue, but quickly turned to Airplay and watched video I owned instead of subscribed to.

Here was the email:

Yes that’s right, Netflix has offered a generous 3% of what their streaming only service costs per month. For you math whizs out there, that’s $0.24. Twenty-four cents.

I’m not really sure what the motive here is. I don’t need a quarter back. Is this intended to show me how little I pay for the service? Is it a well intentioned gesture of apology and good will?

If I assume that they gave this to every subscriber, which is a big assumption, that means they spent about $5 million.

The big question is why did the interruption happen? What failed? The email is silent on that, and there have been no explanations. I wonder if the $5 million wouldn’t have been better spent on what ever the issue was.

Giving me a quarter doesn’t impress me. A simple apology would have been just as effective. I’ll take the money, but I would rather know that they are improving on whatever broke.

The Future of Christian TV: A TV Distribution Idea

For over a year now I’ve had this idea. I’ve been thinking about it, and watching the world shift, waiting for technology to catch up with the idea.

I go to conferences and hear presenters talk about how we need to change the culture from within, how we can use the system to influence entertainment and our world. And I love that we have more and more Christians in the entertainment business. Christian writers, producers and actors and the rest. These people are making a mark in the industry, but what if we saw a trend in the consumption of media, and could actually lead the industry and distribute quality Christian content to a huge audience?

I have seen Christians do amazing things with movies. Ever since the Passion of The Christ showed studios that a religious movie can make money, the doors have been open. The new funding, production and distribution model that people like Sherwood Baptist and Possibility Pictures has developed over the last few years has caused ripples across the entire movie industry.

I want to talk about TV.

The current pay TV/educational license model in Christian TV is limited in reach, and the donor base is drying up. Younger audiences are not responding to this type of TV.

Quality Christian TV is still shut out of the major networks. We may see the occasional show like Seventh Heaven or Touched by an Angel, but generally there are no TV shows that routinely show characters dealing with real world issues from a biblical perspective.

What if we could change that? What if we could use emerging technology to reach millions?

In 2009 the Wall Street Journal reported that the median age for TV viewers climbed to 50 for the first time in history. (source: The Last TV Evangelist by Phil Cooke, pg 19). More and more people are not choosing network TV as their first screen. Younger people are still consuming media, but they are not limited to TV networks to find it.

Netflix boasts over 20 million subscribers, with huge increases as more and more methods of viewing their content come available.

Well over 40 million people view content on Hulu, and that number keeps growing.

YouTube has over 120 million viewers, watching everything from funny home movie to full length feature films.

Set top Internet TV boxes are becoming more and more popular. The new Apple TV sold 1 million units in less than 4 months.

Roku hit a million boxes sold in 2010 as well, with over $50 million in revenue. Forecasts are that they will reach $100 million in revenue in 2011.

Google TV has hit some roadblocks with content, but I think their issues have to do with how they approach content acquisition. But you can still view Netflix, and the company is reportedly working on a deal with Hulu Plus.

A recent survey by JP Morgan reports that 28% of cable subscribers would consider canceling cable and going with web video. If they already use Netflix to stream video, the number rises to 47%

Who watches TV online?

Lab 42 surveyed 400 people of varying ages and backgrounds who use social media. -slide- Over 72% of those under 34 said they already watch TV shows online. The younger they were the more likely they were to watch TV online. The top 3 services they used to watch TV online: 1. YouTube. 2. Hulu. 3. Netflix. The kind of show they watched most? 45% said episodic TV. Only 3% said they watched religious programs online.

How many social media users are there? Consider Facebook. In 2010 the number of Facebook users grew from 337 million to 585 million. That’s more than 7 new users every second. Of the 585 million, over 428 million are age 34 and younger. 147 million of those are in the US, and over 50% are age 18-34.

Remember 72% of social media users 34 and under watch TV online? If that number holds true worldwide, there 308 million people in the world who already watch TV online, and over 53 million 18-34 year olds in the US who already watch TV online. Even if you discount all of these numbers, it is obvious that there is a huge trend among younger audiences to watch TV online. Millions and millions of people make up a huge potential audience.

Television broadcasting is in the middle of the largest shift in content delivery since cable was invented. In the next few year we will see the Internet become the primary source for video consumption. Networks are scrambling to figure out how to stay profitable.

With the shift in how people get content, there will no longer be network locks at every door.

Now is the time to use new methods of delivery for quality episodic Christian content. We can bypass the network gatekeepers, and create a new funding model for TV. (Not just Christian TV, but all TV) We can bypass the networks, and make content available to millions and millions of people. We can create shows and distribute them directly on services like Netflix and Hulu, or through YouTube, or any other web video outlet.

For this to work you need three things-

Show– Above all the show has to be good. Period. The model only works if people want to watch it more than once. If you don’t have the right show, stop and go home. This is the first and most important factor in success.

Tech– We have to use every method possible, every avenue available to deliver content. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, or whatever. This model of Christian TV production is only possible because of the shift in tech. The cost of production keeps falling, and we can use advances in technology to produce great looking shows for a fraction of the cost of traditional network shows.

Marketing– We have to cut through the noise. Without the networks to filter content, and serve as a point of consumption, show producers must figure out how to stand out in the crowd, how to get watched. And because the new media revolution is interactive, social media will be a huge part of that. We must use every means to get people to watch the show, and empower them to share the show with others, recommending it within their own spheres of influence. Video diaries, highlights, contests, online chats with actors, fan pages, all disseminated through social media. This approach, combined with a traditional media campaign, can create a growing ground swell of viewers. The more viewers, the easier it is to get sponsors. The more sponsors, the more shows we can produce.

So, that’s the model: distribute an episodic show through online video channels with significant interaction with audience. I’m positive I’m not the only person thinking along these lines. This isn’t rocket science, the future of TV is coming our way and it will be hard to miss. I’m sure things will have to be tweaked, and there’s definitely stuff I’ve missed. This is not a perfect plan. And as the world keeps shifting, things will have to be adjusted. But this can work. And we have to try it. We cannot let this chance pass us by.

So what’s the next step? I need to find a show idea. Something that appeals to 18-34 year olds. It needs to be Christian, but not sappy. Fiction or reality show, it needs to appeal to non religious people. Something that shows real people in real situations reacting to life from a biblical perspective. From a budget perspective, reality TV may be more feasible, and those shows seem popular with young adults.

I am still going to be a church media pastor. I will still be working at my job for the knowable future, and this is a spare time project. And then it takes a lot of work… It will only work if God is in it, because I know I don’t have the knowledge, or the capability to do it on my own. It probably won’t happen fast, but it can happen.

Apple TV Netflix Error 111 Quick Fix

I have been experiencing the same error a lot of Apple TV users have when watching Netflix. Everything will be fine, you can navigate the menus,and see your instant queue. But when you try to actually play the video, you get an error message (111 or 112).

The easiest way to get past this is to power down the Apple TV completely. Putting it to sleep doesn’t always work. Unplug the device and then plug it back in. Works every time (so far).

I’d love to see this issue, whether it’s with Netflix or Apple, fixed soon.

I Miss Storage on the Apple TV, I want AirPlay Now

[See my quick review of AirPlay]

I miss being able to store media on the Apple TV. I do. I really do.

It’s not a huge thing because I mostly watch streaming media anyway. I didn’t consciously make the choice to do this, but except for local news and football, I have streamed every other show I wanted to see this Fall. I like the streaming model. I think it is the right choice for the future.

But for now, I miss not having local storage on the Apple TV. With my old one, I used to load up a bunch of movies, and just watch them when I got around to it. It was a simple as turning on the TV and grabbing the remote. With the new Apple TV, I need to have my computer on with iTunes open. I use a laptop, and don’t always take it home, especially since I use an iPad.

And it’s not just my laptop. I have a lot of movies, and I need to store most of them on an external drive. So I have to set up the laptop, power the drive and get iTunes open before I can watch movies from my library. No big deal if I have a desktop, but since the laptop travels, there is always a set up. Even if I don’t need it for anything else.

I find myself choosing to watch something from Netflix. Or watching my video on my other iOS devices.

That is why I think that when iOS 4.2 hits, and AirPlay becomes available, this issue will go away for me. I can load multiple movies on the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, and then with the touch of the screen, I can see those on my TV. This should remove my issues with streaming my own content. Movies I want to see can be loaded to my iPod just as easily as they were loaded to the old Apple TV.

I just wish 4.2 was here already.