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Summary:

Two weeks after the independently-produced Pioneer One‘s premiere, it’s become the most-seeded show on BitTorrent while also raising over $20,000 from fans for production of the next three episodes. But should the show’s producers seek out a steady source of funding — or stick to crowdsourcing?

VODO-presents_-Pioneer-One

Two weeks after the independently-produced Pioneer One‘s online premiere, the show has definitely found its audience. According to TorrentFreak, the half-hour pilot is now the best-seeded TV show on BitTorrent. Plus, the legally distributed file has been downloaded over a million times, surpassing illegal downloads of current shows like True Blood and Doctor Who.

That, added to the fact that the project has received over $20,000 in donations for future episodes, means that the show will definitely go on. Creator Josh Bernhard told TorrentFreak that the $20,000 will fund a block of three new episodes, which are now currently in pre-production. “We’re still looking for more solid backing toward our ultimate financing goal, but the donation money was absolutely crucial for us to move forward. We have some promising prospects, and we’ll know more on that within a couple of weeks,” he said.

Finding a stable source of income for the project would not only be a validation of Bernhard and co-creator Bracey Smith’s work, but it would show once again that an independent project can rise to success on the strength of its fan base. However, given the immense outpouring of support for the project, I wonder if it would be possible to keep Pioneer One as a purely fan-supported operation.

Certainly, the money wouldn’t be as good as a studio deal — but it would also guarantee that Bernhard and Smith would continue to own their intellectual property and control the project’s future. And there’s a simple way to formalize the process of fan donations — the creation of a subscription system could enable different types of rewards with different levels of financial participation. Subscription models for web series haven’t yet been proven to be sustainable. But this might be the right project to try it.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): The Quest to Monetize File Sharing

  1. Can you add more detail on how exactly did they raise 20k? Their http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pioneeronetv/pioneer-one-pilot-episode-for-dramatic-series?pos=1 shows around 7k only

  2. Scott Jensen Saturday, July 3, 2010

    If they want Pioneer 1 to be the beginning of a new trend of p2p shows, they have to get advertisers on board. Depending on fan donations just isn’t profitable enough nor stable enough of a funding source. That and it won’t be that enticing to production companies to follow suit because they will rightly wonder just how many shows can be supported by fans. However, if they can get and build long-term relationships with advertisers, they do not need to be picked up by a major studio and can go it alone. They would then be able to fully own and control the creative content.

    What I would like NewTeeVee to report is if this production company has a dedicated marketer on board or not. To me, that will say a lot about whether or not they’re really serious about making Pioneer 1 a success or just an experiment. They need such a person to bring advertisers on board. They need someone that can talk the same language as the marketing executives of advertisers. You need this for the same reason why computer consulting firms need marketers. No sane computer consulting firm would let their programmers directly talk to clients. Geeks don’t make good account executives.

    I wish Pioneer 1 more success and hope it is taking the necessary steps to achieve it.

  3. go to http://vodo.net/pioneerone , rodolfo.

    the link you have was the money raised only for the pilot.

  4. Pioneer One: A New Media Model Success Story « BitTorrent Blog Thursday, July 8, 2010

    [...] surprise that there has been a lot of interest in this alternative media model (See: TorrentFreak, NewTeeVee, TechDirt, New York Times). Moreover, BitTorrent allowed Josh and Bracey to tap into online [...]

  5. Rachel Parker Monday, July 12, 2010

    Is there a non-torrent method to view this show? I’d like to stream it…not a fan of P2P.

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