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A Response To Felicia Day On How Video Gets Funded

A Response To Felicia Day On How Video Gets Funded In A Fragmented, Digital World

Felicia Day has had some success in the online video with her The Guild series. Initially fan funded (poorly) and now sponsored (by Microsoft is my memory is accurate) Felicia has a reasonable position as both a participant in the traditional TV series world (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and online. She asks the question on Google Plus:

There is a basic principle working here (scary, if you’re in the TV business) that I’ve personally been dealing with on The Guild with a mere 2 DAYS! delay of releasing content: People want content immediately, wherever they like to view things. They don’t care if you’re trying to pay production bills, they don’t care if it’s the only way to fund things, they want it NOW, they want it CONVENIENT to them personally. Whether this is a reasonable attitude or not, it’s what people are used to in this day of streaming on demand, and it’s only going to get worse, because cord-cutters are getting more and more common. Long view=not good.

and then cuts to the fundamental question a lot of us have been trying to answer:

So my question is: What happens to all those shows when they fragment like that? Who is gonna pay to produce them? What is the future? (And “funded by viewers” model is not the answer, only 1% of people ever really contribute, and the up-front costs of producing video are WAY higher than making a record or a book, etc. Believe me, I understand this personally.)

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick is another that has been trying to fathom the funding future for creative endeavors, admittedly more focused on music than video, but that’s largely because the music business is further down this path, and has somewhat simpler structures for bands and solo artists than the group effort that video production usually entails. He posits:

But on to the larger point of what happens to video in a fragmented world? Well, I sense that it’s going to be awesome. As with music and books, it will allow all kinds of niche productions to show up, which would simply never make it at all in a “network” world. In fact, this is already happening — and Day’s been a part of some of that with things like The Guild and Dr. Horrible. As for how to fund it, well, again there are a variety of options. One of the things that changes is that there’s no longer “one clear path,” but that hardly means there’s no way to make money. It may take more experimentation, but there are all sorts of options, mostly involving a hybrid of models.

For years, of course, we’ve talked about how the new business models are built off of the formula of connect with fans, while giving them a valuable scarce reason to buy, and that certainly applies to video as well. In the past, for example, we’ve listed out 10 forms of scarcities that can help you figure out good “reasons to buy,” and most of them apply to video as well. Let’s take a look:

He then lists 10 scarcities that we can “sell”, given that we cannot sell (ultimately) the digital abundance. The whole article is a great read. It’s not the full answer by any means, but I think the “future truth” will be that there is not one path nor one way to get funded.

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August 2011
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