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Should You Take Your Web Series Exclusive?

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Many web series struggle to get seen, thanks to the sea of content out there. But the show Squatters, created by and starring Brandon Bradley, had an edge when it launched last June; it was the second series to run exclusively on video site, and the first comedy. According to Bradley via email, “As a first time creator who produced the show completely independently, I was very excited to have the interest and support of an international distributor.”

Official Trailer
Uploaded by squatters. – See more comedy videos.

After the first eight episodes premiered, Dailymotion wanted to extend its exclusive rights to the show, but Bradley declined the opportunity, due to issues with the original rollout as well as a lack of transparency in the advertising revenue process.

Problems Bradley experienced during the initial rollout included an increase in the length and frequency of ads that he says frustrated the audience, a seven-hour delay on an episode being released due to technical issues and fewer homepage takeovers than initially promised. In addition, the show never received an exclusive sponsor, something tried for but was ultimately unsuccessful in securing.

According to Dailymotion Head of Content David Ripert, Dailymotion made sure that Squatters received as much promotion as any other partner during its exclusive run, conservatively estimating the value of the ad space given to the show at $500,000.

However, Bradley, whose deal included revenue sharing off the advertising, was also frustrated by the fact that he wasn’t able to get all the details on Dailymotion’s deals with advertisers. In regard to the lack of transparency in the advertising revenue process, a Dailymotion spokesperson said the specific information Bradley wanted was proprietary to the advertisers. “It’s the client’s choice — it’s the way the business is,” the spokesperson said.

Squatters continues to run on Dailymotion on a non-exclusive basis, and according to Ripert, “We gave [the show] the same level of visibility that it had when the show was exclusive versus non exclusive.” The show has to date received nearly 350,000 views on Dailymotion.

Ultimately, Bradley wasn’t content with that level of visibility, leading to him choosing to spread the show out to other sites including YouTube (s goog) and And going non-exclusive for the second half of Squatters‘s first season has meant, according to Bradley, “the opportunity to experience a diverse sampling of release and revenue strategies, finding an even wider audience by being accessible on every major video sharing site.”

Dailymotion continues to push for exclusive content, hiring a branded content specialist in the last quarter of 2010 and making plans to fund some original series in 2011. Other partners who made exclusive deals with the site have had positive experiences; MWG Entertainment, which produced last fall’s Camera Obscura, premiered the show exclusively on Dailymotion.

“Working exclusively with one platform can heighten the sense of ownership it has over a project’s success,” MWG president Max Goldenson said via email. “We actually had the intention of taking this project exclusively to one distributor from the onset, whether that was going to be Dailymotion or someone else. And there were two things that struck me about Dailymotion. First, they were the most passionate about the project, which I took very seriously. And second, they were the most articulate in explaining precisely how they would market and promote the series.”

Bradley harbors no hard feelings towards Dailymotion; the show still uses Dailymotion as its primary hub, he says, “because of the time and resources we had previously invested into trafficking our audience to that channel.”

What he’s taken away from the experience, he says, is that “A distributor is like Nike (s nke). At the end of the day, the customer isn’t buying the ‘swoosh,’ they’re buying shoes. It’s my responsibility to make a quality product, but I need a company to market that product and endorse it and put on it on the shelf so the customer can buy it efficiently and at a markup we can all agree on. In this young, evolving medium, it’s hard to separate the swoosh from the shoe. But for now, we need to keep in mind that most of these distribution sites don’t finance shows…So without content creators, they have nothing to sell.”

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7 Responses to “Should You Take Your Web Series Exclusive?”

  1. Putting a series on your own web site makes absolutely no sense….who really wants to visit a zillion unique sites?. Now for lonelygirl15 where there was a sense of community it made sense, but for shows like this, ummmm NO.!

    Unless your portal site is buying you views then just put it on YouTube and keep it simple. Now Koldcast does a good job of promoting their shows but other than that its YouTube or one of the sites that will buy you some views.

  2. Yep, Jeremy Campbell nails it here. It’s the ‘conservatively estimated at…’ line that is the giveaway here.

    Whom exactly is that “estimated” by? A client or an Agency media buyer? More likely, the site itself.

    At the same time, DM and other platforms do have costs, etc., to contend with, so this is really part of a larger, overall picture. GREAT article.

  3. $500,000 of ad space given but only 350,000 views? Something doesn’t ad up there unless DailyMotion estimates a view being worth more than a dollar. We are enjoying distributing/promoting the series on our partner site, and Brendan is a great guy to collaborate with.

    Loved the interview, need more of these on NTV!

  4. I don’t know what’s going on at Dailymotion, but a lot of people are complaining about having to endure a seemly endless stream of pre-rolls, as many as 8 in some cases, before being able to watch the chosen content.

  5. Interesting to get a creator’s take on how best to expose and distribute his/her show. Brandon’s last statement on our need for financing which distribution sites don’t provide is the key here. I think for now, the more people who see our work, the better. And the better our work is (with of course the 24hr a day efforts it takes on the part of creators) the more people will support it.

  6. I think you are onto the start of a trend Liz. I recently saw The Young Turks show start distributing on Revision3 instead of exclusively YouTube. I think the next step will be content creators distributing content through their own web presence primarily (i.e. and only putting sample promo stuff up on the big distributors.