"All Dressed Up and Lots of Places to Go"
With broadband usage widening, people are viewing trailers, shorts and features on their Internet home theater (which for most of us, is our home computer).
Take a look at the Surfview Guide. The number of websites that offer streaming video is growing like crazy. The current count is over fifty!
If you have a finished short or feature and you want exposure for it, a number of the sites allow you to post your trailer, short or feature for free. Some charge.
That's great, but what if you want to get paid?
In a previous editorial, titled "1-900 TV", I brainstormed about a mechanism where if people liked what they saw, they would call a specific 1-900 number, type in a number corresponding to the program that they watched and be billed an agreed upon amount (my example used $1). In a 90/10 payment plan (or something equitable), the reports from the 1-900 phone agency would be used as exhibition proof, allowing the producer to get the 90% and the Web broadcaster, the remaining 10%.
Let's say a company emerges that handles collecting via the 1-900 mechanism described above. But, it does it for all Web broadcasters. Each broadcaster would be responsible for putting a unique show code in the bottom right of a frame, much like CNN, TBS and USA place their logos in the bottom right corner. The show code doesn't have to be there the whole time, just periodically. Also, every once in a while the complete 1-900 number is placed in the right bottom of the frame.
The reason why the 1-900 phone mechanism is preferred over an online credit card charging system, is because people use devices like TiVo or their harddrives to download the whole movie and watch it later, totally separate from the Web. The same holds true for VCRs that record streaming Web content. Often viewers will be watching the show, unconnected to the Web. Anybody having a whim for a "fair exchange contribution" can call the 1-900 number on their screen, if they liked the content. (Shareware programmers have been making a living using this "try before you buy" mechanism for years.)
Right now, each Web broadcaster has to come up with their own payment mechanism. However, if, as I have proposed, that a central 1-900 collection company be accepted by the Web broadcasters, a revenue stream will happen where, everyone can get paid, independent of theatrical exhibition. For whomever has the best 1-900 phone results, theatrical distributors will see which shorts and features might be attractive for a broader release - in theaters.
Rather than thinking of the 1-900 as competition to theatrical distribution, think of it as a proving ground. Since the phone reports are proof that demonstrates interest by area code, knowing where to release product becomes more scientific.
With your short or feature "all dressed up," there are indeed a ton of "places to go."
Now, it's time to work on the payment model where appreciative viewers can offer payment in a simple mechanism that can be adopted by all Web broadcasters, using the Shareware-style payment plan. I'm working on it. If you have any ideas, drop me a line.
Letters from the Editor
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