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Summary:

Deluxis is a small startup with a big dream: to create a subscription-based network for compelling online-only content on the web. But is it time for TV-quality shows to start going to the web first? And if so, can Deluxis attract the audiences those shows deserve?

deluxis cake

The idea behind Deluxis Entertainment is to create high-value, on-demand, scripted content and deliver it in serialized form to become a destination for exclusive original shows. In other words, Deluxis wants to be just like the major cable networks, except for one thing: It wants to deliver all of those shows online first.

Of course, Deluxis isn’t the first production company to dream big about creating TV-quality shows exclusively for the web. Its plan — to build a subscription-based, online-only network of shows that can be watched whenever one wants, on any device he wants — is a grand one, and will require a lot of execution to actually work. But in light of the recent success of Netflix and its plans to license original programming backed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey, maybe quality TV shows exclusively for the web aren’t such a far-fetched idea.

Deluxis CEO Christopher Kaminski told us in an interview that his plans for Deluxis were first hatched after he canceled cable and was unable to find the shows he wanted, either on free services like Hulu, subscription services like Netflix or even through online VOD services like Apple’s iTunes.

“I’m customer zero for this. Some of the best shows on cable were not coming online,” Kaminski said. “So I thought, rather than waiting for someone else to rescue me, why don’t I make this myself?”

In his corner is Deluxis CFO Marc Granirer, who once was COO of the Don Johnson Company and executive in charge of production for Nash Bridges. Prior to that, Granirer was COO and executive in charge of production for Arthur Company, an independent television production company that produced 550 episodes of television in partnership with Universal Studios and Turner Broadcasting System. And Kaminski, who hails from the video game world as a producer, likes to think there are a number of parallels to Hollywood production and the gaming world.

So here’s a small startup with big dreams — but how does Deluxis actually plan to pull this off? Kaminski told us the company is currently evaluating scripts and hopes to begin production soon. As for financing, he said there are a number of tools production companies can use to get production started without a lot of up-front investment, like local grants and foreign pre-sale of shows that are in development. The real trick is in getting subscribers to sign up to the network — and for that, you need compelling content. In particular, he believes you need one killer show that can serve as a foundation for others to build on.

That’s a daunting task, even for the most well-financed media companies. Even in the broadcast and cable worlds, the majority of shows fail. Some shows — like Arrested Development or Party Down — can have strong fan bases but not enough traction from a mainstream audience to make them successful. And even those that eventually become successful — like AMC’s Mad Men, for instance — sometimes need a little bit of runway before viewers really start to take notice.

As a startup with limited capital, Deluxis might not get a lot of chances to make that one killer show. Then again, stranger things have happened. And if there’s a time to start thinking about quality, TV-like original scripted programming hitting the web, that time is now.

  1. Is it just me, or does the business model of “producing good content” seem pretty suspect to anyone else. “TV-quality shows exclusively for the web” already exist — in huge numbers as a matter of fact — and even the great ones don’t have TV-quality audience numbers.

    Showtime is already having problems getting people to subscribe to thier content and they have Dexter, Weeds, and Californication. Even the NY Times is struggling to get people to warm up to the idea of a subscription. The Deluxis strategy seems, at the very least, optimistic.

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  2. small start up? they haven’t even updated their blog from Feb!!! Not looking hopeful so far…yawn

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