How French Maid TV Brings in Dough

Tim Street is the man behind the web’s sexiest ‘how to’ show, French Maid TV (No offense, Make’s Bre Pettis). Similar to an infomercial, the maids take a break from dusting to explain in cooing detail how to accomplish a task — such as “How to Make a Video Podcast.”

The hard part, of course, is getting paid to make a video podcast — prurient appeal, of course, is one time-tested method. But Street isn’t just busy looking for models, he’s also bringing in significant revenue by experimenting with sponsorship. “While other people have been out making episodes, I’ve been doing business development,” he told NewTeeVee in a phone interview yesterday afternoon.

Street pointed out there are some common themes to the adoption of new media technologies: “We go through spectacle, and then we go into story.” An analogy can be found in the earliest days of motion pictures, which were dominated by shorts produced for coin-operated Kinetoscopes — and tended toward action footage, pratfalls, early special effects and, well, busty women. It was only later that longer-form, story-based cinema rose to prominence. “When I know advertisers will be there, I’ll go into story,” he promised.

FMTV isn’t produced on a regular schedule like traditional television shows. Instead, Tim works with a sponsor to create “contextual advertising.” The lesson: when product placement meets fetish, dollars abound. Sponsors have included GoDaddy, iLike and Barterbee.

“If you want an episode of French Maid TV, the price is $50,000. That includes production and distribution.” Street works with sponsors to title the clip appropriately — since it lives online permanently, the idea is to receive continuous traffic from search queries. Though if a quick flood of initial interest is your goal, Street told me that he’s “working with some PR people to do that.”

Still, that search traffic can pay off. Together, the episodes have been viewed over 12 million times, according to Street. He also told me that he gets around $300 per thousand clicks on ads through Revver, though he wasn’t able to offer the approximate views-to-clicks ratio. He did share that “It’s a decent income. I could pay my rent every month based on what I’m making on Revver.” He would like to get better analytics from Revver, which is something Micki Krimmel has assured me is in the works and nearing completion.

Like a number of Revver users, though, Street is following the current saga of MySpace blocking embedded video from Revver. While Ask a Ninja has raised a battle cry to get MySpace to change their policy, Tim doesn’t seem terribly concerned yet. Up to now, he says the promotional impact of MySpace on his show has been minimal but growing. He did agree that it’s frustrating for both the creators and their audience. “People are going to link to what people want to link to. If the audience becomes frustrated with MySpace, they’ll stop using it,” he warns.

There are still plenty of other promotional venues, and putting search engines to work leading viewers to your content is a creative and savvy solution. By working with sponsors, Tim has also guaranteed that he can cover his production costs before starting in on a new episode, and by using Revver, shows generate “a nice residual.” Though it is, essentially, advertising, the audience doesn’t seem to mind in this context. “People who watch movie trailers are fine being advertised to in a movie theater.”

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