At least until recently, a lot of filmmakers assumed that they could get on any platform they needed to be on just by calling up Distribber or another aggregator like Quiver. With the fallout of the fall of Distribber, many filmmakers are wondering what they can do for distribution. So, I thought I’d share some knowledge as to what platforms a filmmaker can still get on themselves using aggregators like Quiver, and what platforms you’ll need an accomplished sales distributor, or producer’s rep to get on.
I’m going to break this into general media right types. If you’re not sure what that means, learn more by clicking through to the related blog below.
Related: Independent Film Media Right types.
Also, this analysis is based not he US Market
For filmmakers, the most economical solutions tend to be either paying to rent a theater for a few screenings, or using a service like Tugg, to have a screening demanded if the film has enough of a following to make it work. I have my issues with their model, but that’s a topic for a future blog/video.
Distributors have a lot more options for physical media than filmmakers tend to. Some distributors still replicate DVDs on a massive scale, which gives them the ability to get higher quality disks and get them into brick and mortar stores like WalMart,Target, Family Video, or kiosks like Redbox. Many distribution companies also have access to libraries. Also, Blu-Ray in general is only really available on a wide scale through a distributor.
Even if they use a Manufacture on Demand (MOD) service, they tend to have access to companies who will put them out on the online storefronts of pretty much anywhere that sells DVDs and Blu-Rays. This is largely due to the fact that those companies tend to only publish catalogs.
If you’re a filmmaker, you’ll generally be limited to either buying a few thousand DVDs with no guaranteed warehouse solution or distribution network, or you’ll be limited to using something similar to Createspace to put them up on Amazon. While this tends to have the highest margins, it doesn’t tend to move a lot of product, and the quality of the product is generally pretty low.
Broadcast, PayTV, and Ancillary (Generally Airline)
To get on any network or paytv channel, you’ll need the help of a distribution company. Same for airlines. These entire right types are not generally available to you as a filmmaker.
Video On Demand (VOD)
For ease, I’m going to break this into a few categories that are generally accepted within the industry. Those categories are Transactional VOD (TVOD) Subscription VOD (SVOD) and (AVOD)
Transactional Video On Demand (TVOD)
In General, TVOD is pretty accessible to filmmakers on their own. Filmmakers can pay an aggregator to get you on most platforms for a fee. These platforms include iTunes, Google Play/YouTube, Fandango Now, and many others. Also, Filmmakers have been able to put their own work up on Amazon Instant video largely for free until recently, although it seems those winds may be changing. Either way, filmmakers can use Vimeo OTT or Vimeo On Demand to sell the film directly through their website.
There are, however, more than a Few TVOD platforms that only a distributor can access. These include a subset of TVOD called Electronic Sell Through VOD (ESTVOD) that’s primarily used for paid on demand offerings of cable and satellite providers, as well as the occasional hotel chain. The hotel chain VOD offerings have greatly declined in recent years as free WiFi has become commonplace. Additionally, there’s a service that enables your content to be rented through library systems that’s only accessible to distributors with decently sized catalogs.
Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD)
In order to get on any platform like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO NOW, HBO MAX, or any other major streaming platform, you need the help of a distributor. Distribber SAID they could pitch you, but that turned out to not be as true as you might hope, and their pitch fee was the size of most commissions a sales agent would take. Also, their success rate was abysmal for someone charging up front. This was primarily due to them pitching dozens of films a month, and as such them not getting much attention.
If you want to utilize your SVOD rights as a filmmaker, you pretty much have three options. Put it on Amazon Prime, (at least for now.) You can start your own subscription service using Vimeo OTT, or try to sell it to people who started their own subscription services that you’ve found. I doubt those last people will have much money though.
Advertising Supported Video On Demand (AVOD)
Finally, we come to Advertising Supported Video on Demand, or AVOD. This is an exciting space that’s only recently emerged. The two biggest players that do it profitably are TubiTV and PlutoTV. Both of which only deal with filmmakers and sales agents with large catalogs of high quality, distributable films. This means they generally only deal with distributors or sales agents.
If you’re a filmmaker, you can put your movie on YouTube in the normal way for AVOD dollars, but it’s generally inadvisable for feature film content. It’s good for vlogs about film distribution though..,
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.