New revenue opportunities are emerging with the recent boom in video viewing on the Web. On this chart, I've tried to list all of the Web sites that enable independent video producers to make money from their work. I've ranked the sites subjectively, based on how much traffic and buzz they've been attracting, and also how likely it seems that a video producer would actually manage to earn a significant return by posting a video to them. (Media companies with large libraries have a wider range of options for monetizing their content, including Apple's iTunes Music Store, Movielink, and Vongo.)

The majority of these sites are geared shorter-form content, but a few, like Brightcove, EZTakes, and GreenCine, make it possible for producers of hour-long or feature-length projects to generate revenue. Most of these sites don't demand exclusive rights to a video, and I've tried to highlight the few that do, like The Yahoo! Current Network and TurnHere.

Below the main chart, there are two supplemental charts: one lists Web video sites that have announced plans to enable producers to make money with their videos, but haven't yet gone live, and another chart lists DVD-burning services, which help producers sell good old-fashioned DVDs of their work. (While there are some companies, like AdBrite, experimenting with ways to allow video producers to insert ads in their own videos, I haven't yet started a list of these services, in part because they leave the problem of finding an audience in the producer's lap. I also haven't listed all the sites that run contests where winners can earn money for their submissions.)

This project is part of a just-published book, The Future of Web Video: New Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers. Both the book and this chart are based on more than 100 interviews with executives and media-makers I conducted in 2005 and 2006. I'd welcome your feedback via e-mail, at kirsner @ pobox.com.

(Notes: I use the term "producer" in these charts to mean filmmaker/director/media-maker. Also, most of these sites prohibit adult, violent, or hateful content; GreenCine, CustomFlix, and IndieFlix are the three companies willing to carry edgier material. I'd prefer if you didn't re-post this document elsewhere in its entirety, though I heartily encourage links.)

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL


Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal

Remarks

1. Atom Entertainment

San Francisco, CA
1999

http://www.atomfilms.com/submit/index.html

http://www.addictingclips.com/CashForClips.aspx


Short animated and live action movies (generally under five minutes).

Very selective about content; videos must be picked for inclusion by site editors, and are generally licensed exclusively to Atom for a specified period of time. Producers earn royalties based on the popularity of their content (and sometimes an advance payment, too), plus a share of any additional distribution revenues generated through deals with partners such as Verizon, for mobile video. Since launching, AtomFilms has paid more than $3,000,000 to producers for content licensing and development deals.

The AtomFilms Studio program gives producers an upfront payment for the development of original content exclusively for AtomFilms.

Addicting Clips, a sister site that accepts any content, pays $500 to producers of chosen clips through its Cash Clips program. (Clips that earn money are chosen based on viewer feedback and the site operators' whims.)

Content with provocative titles, like "Roof Sex" and "New Boobs," attracts lots of attention on Atom, even though the actual shorts turn out to be tame. (The parties engaging in roof sex turn out to be two pieces of amorous furniture.) Perhaps Atom's best-known content licensing deal was with JibJab Media, for the musical political satires "This Land" and "Good to Be in D.C.," which together were viewed more than 80 million times in 2004. Site is now owned by MTV Networks/Viacom.

2. Revver

Los Angeles, CA

2005

http://one.revver.com/revver/go/ makers+artists+wanted


Live action shorts and "slice-of-life" videos. 100-megabyte file size limit.

Revver is similar to YouTube, but with a short ad that plays at the end of a video. The company splits advertising revenue 50/50 with the video's producer. Currently, the producer gets paid based on the number of times someone clicks on the ad – not the number of times it is shown. (The rate is 75 cents to $1.00 per click.)

When affiliate sites – a blog, for instance – point viewers to a video, they receive 20 percent of the advertising revenue off the top. The company plans to introduce an impression-based advertising program later in 2006.

Revver's best-known content creators are Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, whose short video "The Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiments" earned them about $30,000 and was viewed more than eight million times on Revver. But Grobe and Voltz encountered trouble keeping non-revenue-generating versions of the video off of other sites – like YouTube.

3. TurnHere

Emeryville, CA

2005

http://www.turnherefilmmakers.com/ become_certified.html


Profiles of local neighborhoods, restaurants, and businesses; most are three minutes or less.

To get "certified," producers must first submit a two-minute audition film. Producers are paid anywhere from $200 to $1000 for a finished short film about a place. (Films then become TurnHere's property.) TurnHere also asks producers to submit their source tapes, along with keywords related to the piece, and addresses of any merchants or attractions included in it.

TurnHere also produces short video "informercials" for local businesses; several of these may be assigned at one time to a producer in the area.

Company has deals with InterContinental Hotels and Discovery to crank out short films. TurnHere plans to produce 25,000 films per year.

4. Metacafe

Israel/San Francisco, CA

2003

http://www.metacafe.com/producer_rewards/


Entertaining, funny videos (cute pet clips are especially encouraged). According to site: "Over six minutes is probably too long...but we'd love for you to prove us wrong."

In the Producer Rewards program, once an uploaded video has been seen 20,000 times, the producer starts getting paid. 20,000 views earns $100; after that, each additional 1,000 views adds $5. A video that is seen two million times would earn $10,000.

Claims 20 million monthly viewers, making it one of the most heavily-trafficked sites on this list.

5. CustomFlix

Scotts Valley, CA

2002

http://www.customflix.com/Services/VideoDownload.jsp


Any content that adheres to content guidelines. Download-to-own videos must be at least 20 minutes long; rental videos must be at least 70 minutes.

Producer suggests a price for video rental and download-to-own version, but Amazon has the final say. Producers get a 50 percent royalty from CustomFlix/Amazon. Good option for indie filmmakers interested in selling features.

Videos will share virtual "shelf space" on Unbox with studio productions like Talladega Nights and The Matrix. Only question: how visible will indie products be on Unbox?

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL


Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal

Remarks

6. Brightcove

Cambridge, MA

2005

http://studio.brightcove.com/


Any content, any length.

Producers can set a per-download price (minimum: 99 cents), or allow Brightcove to insert ads. For the former, Brightcove splits revenues 70-30, with the creator getting the larger share; for the latter, the revenue split is 50-50. But affiliate sites that point users to an ad-supported video can earn 20 percent of the ad revenue off the top; for pay-per-view videos, the producer can set her own commission rate for affiliates.

Site is more geared to producers with libraries of content or a continuing series, rather than someone with one or two videos. You'll be in good company: Brightcove supports shows from National Geographic, Newsweek, and WE, and music videos from Sony BMG. But the Brightcove site itself isn't a major video destination, so it won't generate traffic for you; instead, the company expects producers and content owners to promote their videos on their own sites.

7. The Yahoo! Current Network

Sunnyvale/San Francisco, CA

2006

http://video.yahoo.com/currenttv


First-person reportage about cars, travel, culture, action sports, and Web memes.

Producers whose clips are chosen for the Yahoo Web site get $100. If the clips are also chosen for broadcast on Current's cable TV channel, the producer gets between $500 and $1000. Pay is contingent on the clip being exclusive to Yahoo! Current, and it scales upward based on how many of a producer's pieces have been aired.

Beware: according to the site's terms, simply by submitting a video (even if it is not chosen for the Web site or broadcast), you are granting Current an exclusive three-month license to your content. See http://www.current.tv/terms for more information.

Content is consistently slick and professional, but often it's introduced by chipper Yahoo! Current hosts, who are like the MTV VJs of old, but sans personality.

8. GreenCine Video-on-Demand

San Francisco, CA

2002 (VOD launched in 2003)

http://www.greencine.com/static/filmmaker/ filmmaker_submission.jsp


Indie features and documentaries (full-length and shorts, but the site recommends that shorts be 25 minutes or longer)

Producers send a preview copy of their content on DVD or VHS. GreenCine takes 10-15 days to review the content, and if it chooses to carry it, sends the producer a content license agreement. (This agreement isn't exclusive; content can appear elsewhere.)

GreenCine pays the producer a percentage of gross revenues from every VOD rental or sale, and payments are sent once a month as long as the producer earns at least $100. (Otherwise, producers are paid quarterly.) Company won't reveal the percentage, but one filmmaker whose movies are available on GreenCine, Caveh Zahedi, reports that the split is 50-50, and says his movies are being purchased in digital form about 5-10 times a month. GreenCine currently doesn't charge producers to encode their content for digital distribution.

Among the titles available: 24 Hours on Craigslist, Betty Page Uncovered, I Am A Sex Addict. 12,000 on-demand titles available for rental; GreenCine launched its download-to-own service in fall 2006 with about 50 titles. Company receives about twenty preview copies of films daily.

9. ExpertVillage.com

Austin, TX

http://www.expertvillage.com/submit/login.aspx


Instructional and how-to videos.

Producers earn $300 for each how-to video; videos must focus on specific topics and be assigned first. Each video must consist of 15 segments of one to three minutes each, featuring an "expert" on a given subject.

ExpertVillage purchases exclusive rights to the content. A spokesman says that some videographers have already made more than $1500 by submitting multiple videos. Site's total budget, announced in 2006, is $2 million for a total of 75,000 videos.

Fifteen segments is a heckuva lot of work for $300.

Videos cover topics like kickboxing, applying eye make-up, cutting the perfect lime wedge, sailing, and pilates.

10. EZTakes

Easthampton, MA

2003

http://www.eztakes.com/store/info/sell.jsp


Full-length features, docs, anime, instructional videos.

Producer sets the price for videos; EZTakes pockets a "delivery fee," typically between 30 to 35 percent. The standard EZTakes distribution agreement is non-exclusive. Unlike the other services on this list, EZTakes aims to make it easy to transfer downloaded content onto a DVD for more convenient living room viewing.

Site offers movies from legendary B-studio Troma Entertainment, including The Toxic Avenger, Bollywood fare, and the IMAX documentary Alaska: Spirit of the Wild.

Company /

Location /

Year Founded / URL


Subject Matter/ Length Restrictions

The Deal

Remarks

11. DivX Stage6

San Diego, CA

2006

http://stage6.divx.com/faqs


Any content, any length.

Producers set the price. DivX takes a 10 percent transaction fee, plus $0.0033 per megabyte surcharge. Currently only supports upload from Windows PCs – no Macintosh. To view videos, purchaser must have the free DivX Web player (viewing also requires a Windows PC). Videos must be encoded in DivX's file format. Producers can create their own branded channels on Stage6.

Geared to producers who want to allow their videos to be viewed at full screen at good quality; videos can also be burned onto a DVD, and then played on a DivX-certified DVD player.

12. Break.com

Los Angeles, CA

1998

http://info.break.com/static/break/subPages/getPaid.html


Short videos under three minutes, short "produced" films over three minutes with storylines, short Flash animations.

Content must be selected by Break.com editors and published on the homepage. Short videos (stunts, animals, dancing, pranks) earn $400. Short "produced" films earn $2000. Flash animations and games earn $2000.

Some videos submitted to Break have been aired on Showtime, as part of a promotion called "Chaos in Suburbia." Most videos seem geared to high school and college guys, with scantily-clad women, sports low-lights, and explosions among the most popular stuff.

13. Blip.tv

New York, NY

2005

http://www.blip.tv/faq/advertising/


Any content. Recommends limiting file size to 100 megabytes.

Through an advertising pilot program, site allows producers to "opt in," allowing ads – 15 second post-roll ads or "single slate" still frames – to be shown at the end of their videos. Advertisers pay on a cost-per-click or cost-per-action basis (IE, signing up for a mailing list or actually purchasing a product.) Eventually, Blip plans to introduce cost-per-impression ads that will pay the producer every time an ad is viewed. Blip.tv splits advertising revenue 50-50 with producers, and pays via PayPal within two weeks of the end of the quarter, if the producer is owed at least $10.

Popular video uploading site for bloggers and social activists. Unlike Revver, videos only generate advertising revenue when they are viewed on the Blip.tv Web site. (Not when they're posted elsewhere – even on the producer's blog.)

14. Eefoof

San Diego, CA

2006

http://www.eefoof.com/howitworks.php


Any content.

Shares advertising revenue with producers. According to the site, high-earning producers "are pulling in over $100/month." Producers must earn $25 before payments start arriving. Most features are priced from $8 to $12.

Hasn't attracted much traffic since its launch in July 2006, which was covered in the Wall Street Journal. Text ads and banners surround video, but there isn't yet pre-roll or post-roll advertising on videos themselves.

15. Cruxy

Brooklyn, NY

2005

https://www.cruxy.com/help/viewer.jsp?topic=Seller_FAQ


Any content, any length, in a wide variety of file formats.

Cruxy takes a small fee from each transaction: ten cents, plus 3 percent of the retail price. Plus, the site passes along PayPal fees, which are five cents and 5 percent of the retail price. Selling a video for $2 would bring in $1.69 for the producer. Site pays producers via PayPal.

Eclectic mix of content, including short films like The Skeleton in the Closet and robot dancing lessons. Interesting way to allow other sites to promote your video content using widgets.

16. Panjea

Marina del Rey, CA

2006

http://www.panjea.com/earnings/


Any content.

Producers can offer original videos as a paid download and retain 80 percent of the revenue. Or, for ad-supported content, producers keep between 50 – 85 percent of the revenue generated. Producers must earn $25 before payments start arriving via PayPal.

Text ads and banners surround video, but there isn't yet pre-roll or post-roll advertising on videos. Well-designed site, but hasn't received much attention yet.

17. Dovetail.tv

San Francisco, CA

2005

http://www.dovetail.tv/dovetail-news/ Dovetail-to-Pay-Indie-Filmmakers-for-Each-Download-22.html


Any "professionally-produced" content.

Producers can create their own channel, and upload content in HD or DVD format, without it being down-converted to lower quality. For each download, producer earns a dime. Producers must e-mail the company to establish a producer account first, which is free.

Viewing more than a short trailer entails downloading a piece of Dovetail viewer software (available for Mac or PC). Content selection includes short films that have been seen on the festival circuit, full-length docs like American Goth, and the ubiquitous "Rocketboom."

18. Lulu.TV

Morrisville, NC

2006

https://www.lulu.tv/signup.php


Any content, up to 200 megabytes.

Producers sign up for a $14.95/month account. Lulu creates a payment pool using 80 percent of those monthly fees. Producers earn a portion of that pool, based on how many views their videos get. If a producer gets two percent of all the views, she gets two percent of the payment pool for that month. But producers can only have ten clips eligible for payment per month.

It sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme, but Lulu says that it has paid out over $10,000 to content producers so far. See additional info below, under DVD-Burning Services.

Poorly-designed – clicking on a thumbnail doesn't always take you to that specific video. No critical mass of content yet.

19. Google Video

Mountain View, CA

2005

https://upload.video.google.com/


Any content, any length. But contrary to popular belief and the company's announcements, Google does not yet offer an open payment system for indie producers.

Google had promised publicly in early 2006 to make it possible for independent video producers to charge for video they upload, but that feature never launched, and in September 2006 the company quietly announced that it had been postponed indefinitely. Producers can upload their video to Google to make it freely available; or, if they have more than 1000 hours of video content, they can sign up as a "major producer" and set the price for their downloads.

Google worked on a one-off basis in early 2006 with Waterborne director Ben Rekhi to make his movie available as a paid download, and the search engine has had discussions with others.

In late October 2006, Google began to test an advertising program with Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, creators of the "Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos" series.

Paid content is currently dominated by "Charlie Rose" and CBS TV shows. Presentation and categorization of content is terrible; hard to find (or filter out) paid videos. Category called "Movies" is actually movie trailers. The lone independent feature film offered as a paid download in 2006, Waterborne, only attracted about 300 buyers.

> Other Sites Launching Soon

These sites are ranked based on how likely I think they are to make a splash once they do launch (or once they introduce their service that allows producers to earn money.) As with the list above, this ranking is completely subjective.

Company / URL

Notes

Veoh Networks

http://www.veoh.com/corporate/faq.html#publish10

Site touts the ability for producers to create their own branded channels (or collections of content.) Video is high-quality, even when viewed at full-screen, but viewers must download a Veoh client first. No limit to size/length of video.

WOW TV

http://beta.wowtv.tv/

Producers can create their own channels, and either sell their content or give it away for free. A producer can create multiple channels, and offer a given video in multiple sizes: 640 x 480, 320 x 240, etc. Site is being developed by World of Wonder, a small TV and film production company in Hollywood that has produced cable TV shows like "Million Dollar Listing" and movies like the documentary Inside Deep Throat.

About.com

http://video.about.com/

About.com is starting to encourage its "Guides" (contractors who build mini-sites focused on a particular topic) to produce video, but the company is also exploring the notion of paying other producers to make short informational or how-to videos. An About exec says pay may rage from $50 to $200 per video. About.com is part of NY Times Digital.

VideoEgg

http://www.videoegg.com

VideoEgg is a site favored by bloggers for video hosting. Though the company recently announced an ad sales network called EggNetwork, very little info is available about how producers can get involved.

ON networks

http://www.onnetworks.com/

From the CEO, Kip McClanahan: "...[W]e have a focus on professional-quality content across a large array of subject matter, and support a model that allows pro content creators a recurring revenue stream via a couple of different mechanisms." Site will focus mainly on information and educational video, under five minutes in length, shot in high-def. Site may opt not to pay producers in advance, but instead share advertising and syndication revenues on the "back end."

SuperIndieFilms

http://www.superindiefilms.com/index.php?ForMovieMakers

Inviting filmmakers to participate in an alpha test that began in October 2006. Site will support not just downloading of full-length movies, but also associated elements, like deleted scenes, director's commentary, and storyboards. Producer keeps 75 percent of revenue from download price, after SuperIndieFilms gets a 30-cents-per-download transaction fee.

YouAreTV

http://www.youare.tv

From the founder, David Dundas: "YouAreTV will enable filmmmakers and media-makers to distribute their content through online, desktop and [the] on-demand environment. YouAreTV does not seek to be a destination, but a tool to enable content find the right audience." Site will enable producers to earn money either from ads or paid downloads, starting in December 2006.

> DVD-Burning Services

Producers with long-form videos (or a collection of clips that they want to sell together) may want to make their work available as a DVD. There are three options for making DVDs available "on demand"; this means that you don't have to order a certain number of DVDs, stash them in your garage, and fulfill orders yourself.

Company / URL

Notes

CustomFlix (owned by Amazon.com)

http://www.customflix.com/

Producers can sell their work on CustomFlix's own store, or on both CustomFlix and Amazon.com. (And why wouldn't you?) CustomFlix charges a $19.95/year storage fee, which is waived for as long as the work is made available on Amazon. Producer sets the price. If producer supplies an already-authored DVD, CustomFlix is offering free set-up through the end of 2006; otherwise, additional fees are involved. CustomFlix has a high-quality catalog, offering documentaries, the Westminster dog show, exercise videos, and the 1960s TV Western "Cimarron Strip."

Producer gets 35 percent of the selling price for DVDs sold through Amazon.com; on CustomFlix, producer keeps 95 percent of revenue, less production costs. (Production costs start at $7.95 per disc, and drop as low as $4.95 if a DVD sells more than 50 copies per month.) Payments arrive every month via direct bank deposit; producers outside the US get paid via check. Discs ship to buyers within three days of when they are ordered. CustomFlix recently launched a digital download service in partnership with Amazon's Unbox (see additional info above.)

IndieFlix

https://www.indieflix.com/ssl/Filmmaker/HowItWorks.aspx

Producers send IndieFlix a master of their movie (or collection of shorts), on any number of formats: DVD, BetaSP, NTSC tape, MiniDV, etc. If the producer hasn't already authored a DVD with menus, Indieflix will take care of that free of charge. Company sells full-length movies or compilations of shorts for $9.95, and producer gets 1/3 of each sale. (Individual shorts sell for $2.95.)

Indieflix pays producers via PayPal or bank transfer each month, as long as they have earned at least $10 during that month. (For foreign filmmakers, this sum is $100.) Discs usually ship within one day, and arrive within 3-to-5 days by first class mail. IndieFlix says it has plans to launch a digital download service. Very little TV or instructional video content; more geared to indie features and shorts.

Lulu

http://www.lulu.com/products/discs/dvd.php

Producer can upload videos and cover art, and set the price. Lulu charges $6.50 to $7.50 to produce each DVD, based on quantity; 20 percent of any profit you collect on top of that goes to Lulu. For example, if the selling price was $17.50, and the disc cost $7.50 to produce, you would give Lulu $2 of the $10 profit, and keep $8. Producers can also choose to sell DVDs at cost. DVDs require a 3-to-5 day production time before they ship to buyers. Unlike CustomFlix and IndieFlix, Lulu does not make available trailers or previews of content. See additional info about Lulu above.

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