Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by jefferiestubes8, Oct 19, 2010.
Seems fair and genre television is one with a good chance of success with that model.
The economics just aren't there yet. Selling ads generates A LOT of money. DVD/subscription models may work some day, but the market just isn't there yet.
Let's think about that $20/season price. Let's take the iTunes model where the distributor keeps 30%(obviously other models are slightly different, but the revenue should be ballpark consistent). CBS makes $14/season/viewer. Falling Skies as an example has been averaging about 4 million viewers and has a budget of ~$2.5m/episode. That means that if every viewer would stick around and pay $14/season and Dreamworks made no profit, they could afford 22 episodes. But of course Dreamworks wants a profit, so make that 11 episodes. And there is no way everyone who currently watches "for free" will pay for a show, so now you're talking 5 episodes best case. Are you willing to pay $20/season for a 5 episode show? And in reality a show distributed in this model will appear as one of the most pirated shows online, so these numbers are optimistic. If you want to see this model work you will need to either cut the budget, increase the cost, or grow the viewer base. Since the 3rd option has failed to happen even on free shows, you're going to need to do #1 or #2. Hope you enjoy shows costing a lot more than $20/season or shows that look like old school Doctor Who.
I'm willing to pay £5 for a feature film on DVD, so if the show was quality, sure. Hell, I paid nearly £30 for the first series of TNG and I only regard two of the episodes as watchable. 22 episode series is wayyy to much anyway; 12 or even 6 is a more resonable number.
Here's another threat to online distribution of non-interactive scripted media: social media games, which are taking off in a big way.
Right now, their financial model is based on one percent of players buying virtual goods, but that's a shitty model (since it's based on a tiny percentage of players and everyone else is a freeloader) and since it's shitty, it's gotta change. Maybe the games can change to incentivize freeloaders to change their wicked ways, but I doubt it, since a major attraction of the games is that, well, they're free. And they appeal to casual gamers who are not going to be that strongly motivated to fork over money for an improved experience. If they care that much, they'd be playing real games, not FarmVille.
So the other way the games could go is to lure in serious brands with serious ad money, and not have the ads relegated to an afterthought that nobody clicks on. And that's a model they're perfectly positioned for, because the casual, mass-market gamer is effectively the same as the broadcast viewer market the big brands are already advertising to.
The achilles heel of advertising on a non-interactive online medium (TV on the internet) is that all you're doing is what you could do on TV, but more lamely - smaller screen, smaller audience, and an audience less tolerant for looking at ads.
The fact that you're in a non-interactive medium makes the audience less passive compared with the kind of zoned-out zombies who watch TV and just let the ads wash over them, even if they could zap them, which no doubt explains the weird phenomenon of nearly half of DVR viewers not zapping ads. An internet viewer's brain is not zombified but is already in interactive-mode, which is not what you want, unless your ads are interactive as well, and can take advantage of that.
Social media games can swoop right in and muscle online TV out of the picture, by integrating the ads into the games themselves, and make them far more powerful than either regular TV or online TV can hope to offer. Right now, the best examples I've found is Polyvore (a very loose game in which the products are the game) and WildTangent (which is making efforts to match advertisers and game content - Scoop Away in a game about keeping pets for instance.)
And I continue to be amazed that we're not seeing TV and movies in social media games. Why is there a Vampire Wars on Facebook but not a Vampire Diaries, which offers the possibility that "Damon," "Stefan" and "Elena" might actually show up in the game for you to interact with? Why aren't the same advertisers on the TV show being given ad slots in the game, and have their products integrated into the game?
And when that happens, what's the point of also having Vampire Diaries, the TV series, online? The advertisers will naturally prefer the greater impact that social media game advertising provides. The TV series online will be nothing more than an afterthought. I could envision a day when TV series become simply the advance PR for the games, which is where all the action and the big ad money really is.
I would bet that Spurlock's show, being reality TV, is a whole lot cheaper to produce than Star Trek would be.
There are also business model for online TV that operate more on the movie theater and DVD model - people purchase the content, advertisers are not in the picture or minor - and there's nothing stopping that from developing in parallel to the traditional ad-supported models. But getting people to pay for content in a medium where FREE FREE FREE has become the standard is a high hurdle.
One way to do that is to create cheap content. YouTube is as cheap as it gets, reality TV is a bit more pricey, but vaulting to premium productions like Star Trek is another thing entirely.
That's a business model that will support made-for-DVD quality, but not what we'd expect from Star Trek. Remember, those feature films wouldn't exist on DVD if there weren't people buying movie theater tickets as the main financial model. Subtract the movie theaters and you're left with Asylum quality movies.
Personally, I wouldn't pay $4/episode for anything. I get episodes on Netflix for about $1.50/DVD, and that includes three or four episodes per disk. When people become used to paying $X for something, it's very hard to get them to pay $X+ anything, especially in this shitty economy.
I agree that given I can get a DVD box set for a tenner, paying even 99p per episode for download is a non-starter for me. But, if it was a first run show that I was invited to support out the gate via purchasing it (a download from iTunes that I would then "own" and could view repeatedly) then I might be persuaded to part with more. I will acknowledge that I might be in the minority there.
subscription-only or paid download for animated series
What if CBS tried an animated series and had it as subscription-only (Hulu Plus, Netflix instant streaming ,
Video-on-demand ONLY on a subscription channel: Showtime) Not on the Showtime linear TV schedule.
or paid download only (iTunes, Amazon)?
Yes it would really be a first for TV but possible.
And of course a Blu-ray/DVD release 6 months after the 13-episode 1st season series run with special features.
Of course it wouldn't be live-action series but less costly to create an animated adult-audience TV-14 rated series than a live-action one.
Probably set in the JJVerse and timeline starting in 2014.
What do you guys think?
If they're doing an animated series, why not put it on the Cartoon Network? It seems like a good bet they're be interested, at a price that makes sense on an animation budget. The likelihood of Cartoon Network's interest is the reason to do an animated series vs. live action. Otherwise, why do it at all?
CBS can also put it on hulu or whatever ancillary revenue streams they can think of, but those options won't fund even an animated series. The make or break is, where is it going to be placed on broadcast or cable? Any show needs that as its main revenue stream, or it's a non-starter.
With the Amazon.com announcement today streaming Viacom shows just like Netflix I can see Amazon getting original scripted shows just like Netflix has a couple original shows coming in 2012.
If CBS strikes a deal with Amazon for an exclusive streaming and downloading for an new Trek series in say 3 years for USA only it's possible Outside of USA could get TV airings.
Has any of these deals been for anywhere close to the budget that a Star Trek show would need?
So far the only sci fi series I've heard of being developed for online distribution is Electric City from Yahoo, which is animated. Netflix has one called Hemlock Grove that is live-action supernatural horror. Both sound like they could be made for less budget than a Star Trek series. And then there's YouTube's professionally developed series - so far, it's heavily reality TV, celebrity gossip and comedy.
I would think a proper Star trek series should be available on regular television. That is where it's home is and has been for decades, and where it should be viewed. But that's just my opinion.
I would be willing to pay a fee along these lines to watch a new Trek TV show. If people are paying this kind of money to watch Desperate Housewives (which sucks!), then a well written Star Trek series should do fine
Desperate Housewives isn't be funded by pay per view. Nothing is. That financial model is completely unproven for scripted drama.
Don't worry about that part. One day, maybe well produced scripted series can exist that aren't tied to TV advertising, but that day is not upon us or even in view.
Thanks for the input, friend Vorta. Takes a load off my mind.
with this news today this thread becomes all the more relevant.
Google Is Launching A TV Service This Year on Google Fiber their broadband Internet service with Kansas City as the first city.
the dream of an À la carte cable service?
so be a subscription for a season of a show or a premium channel subscription that includes a new Trek series in say 5 years we are talking about a new landscape where 500 cable channels only get more niche. Why not 2 or 3 science fiction channels on something like Google's cable-TV-like package.
With rumors in the TV industry that Apple is making a television type device with the intention of Internet subscription service akin to Netflix and Hulu Plus for 2012-2013 deployment. Actually one of the reasons Apple has for becoming a major player is Top-of-the-Line Pay TV Integration.
Although you have heard of this too:
This is all good competition and this may all be bleeding-edge of technology now...but it may become mainstream by the time the next Trek TV series is ready for preproduction.
With major cable television providers like Comcast's Streampix $5./month service offering more on-demand programming on cable TV boxes as well as through an X-Box360 surely a subscription is easy to do for a season pass of a particular TV show that isn't even on a linear channel.
Sure in some foreign countries it will be on TV but there is no guarantee it will be on a linear TV channel here in the USA.
The TV biz is getting shook up by new developments that will break apart satellite and cable's grip on the business, that's for sure. But what any of this means for Star Trek is a very open question.
Just look at YouTube's lineup of pro channels to see the problem: it's all cheap stuff. Celebrity gossip, comedy, reality shows - very little scripted drama of any kind, and space opera is among the priciest of scripted dramas.
Internet video can out-compete traditional TV by providing more targetted niche content to audiences, and reaching audiences far easier. No more making country-by-country deals, now you can stream video to the world without the middlemen.
So what happens is that the audience for any one thing gets smaller (as the amount of content proliferates) but each of those niches can be multiplied by the size of the global audience for that niche. You could have an audience for some niche - say, dystopian space opera - that eclipses even the most mass-market current TV genre. The trick is, financing that content and then reaching that audience.
Add to that the still-weak state of the online ad business compared with the mature TV ad business - it's hard to make a living off online ad placement (as TrekBBS can attest). The better targetting ability of online ads is an advantage over TV, but the tsunami of crap is a disincentive. Ad buyers have a bad impression of online media and they don't want their products associated with crap. (Which is why YouTube is venturing into pro content to begin with.)
So it all adds up to a mixed picture, with some signs that are good for pricey scripted content (easily reached global audience even for a nichey product; advertisers hungry for respectable content) and some signs that are negative (most people won't pay for online content; online ads are a poor replacement for the robust TV ad market; and the sheer, confusing amount of internet video content).
another possible negative of having many competing services that you have to pay for, is they will all have different stuff, so, it's likely one service won't provide you with everything you want, so, even though the price for each streaming service may go down due to competition, your out of pocket may end up going up, because you have to get numerous streaming services
That is definitely a big problem, but it won't raise the amount people will pay because consumers will become confused, and a confused consumer is a non-consumer. People will simply just not opt for any of the services and the whole industry could stagnate.
This is the only way forward: one-stop shopping for every damn thing a person can reasonably think of, from Hollywood blockbusters to HBO miniseries to some obscure documentary to Bollywood musicals, etc. Not everything needs to be included, that's an absurd hurdle, but as long as people can find 99% of whatever they'd think of, that's effectively "everything." Sorting mechanisms can solve the problem of confusion and chaos in trying to zero in on what an individual wants, so that's not an issue.
What the industry cannot afford to happen is nonsense like Starz pulling Sony and Disney movies from Netflix streaming and making you pay for a different service. People don't go to the cineplex and have to worry what studio made the movie they want to see, so why should they worry about that when everything moves to streaming? Consumers get nasty when they perceive that they're getting a worse deal than what they used to get - Netflix can tell us all about that!
I can see why Starz did that, because they don't think Netflix is giving them a good enough deal, and Netflix doesn't want to anger their customers by raising prices for the stuff Starz controls (so they ended up angering them in a different way, hah!) All the jockeying for position is going to end up turning everyone into losers, both producers and consumers.
But YouTube's pro-channel plans are doing an end run around this, because from what I can tell, they're free and ad-supported. If nobody needs to pay for a service, then they can't get angry that the service isn't giving them everything.
a very interesting blog post about Networks/Advertisers and Google in the next 2 years.
The Networks and The Advertisers (And How Google is Crashing the Party) [part 2]
So by the time the next Trek series is to be greenlit the Nielsen ratings just may not be the main factor in the show getting distribution.
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