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 Dailymotion.com, 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.”
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 and Blip.tv. 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. 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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