Getting into Sundance and selling your movie for instant fame, fortune and a three picture deal has never been a realistic business plan. And while it is possible that your movie will be the next breakout hit, it is more likely that your movie will end up in Amazon, iTunes, Hulu and other VOD platforms.
For these reasons, it is important that you gain an understanding of VOD distribution.
While many traditional distributors would like you to believe otherwise, VOD distribution has been democratized. Companies like my consulting client Distribber (they pay me) are disrupting the old models. When it comes to VOD distribution, there are two ways to go:
- Traditional Model: Give up a portion of your movie ownership to a traditional distributor or VOD aggregator and allow them to control your VOD distribution.
- Modern Model: Pay for VOD distribution as a service. Reap the rewards of cutting out the traditional middle-man and retain ownership.
If you decide to cut out the middle-man and take charge of your own VOD distribution, it is important to know that your distribution strategy will fall into three models, including Transactional VOD, Subscription VOD and Ad Supported VOD. The following provides basic overview of each.
Transactional VOD Distribution (TVOD)
With Transactional VOD people can only watch your movie after they make a purchase. In addition to Cable VOD, platforms such as Amazon and iTunes make transactions easy. By keeping customer credit cards on file, prospective viewers are only a few clicks away from watching your movie.
Amazon: How to Get Your Film Into Amazon Instant Video
In the past, filmmakers could utilize Amazon’s CreateSpace to access Amazon. And while CS is still an okay option if you want to sell a DVD, the service does not encode for high definition content. This limitation, coupled with an inability to access Amazon Prime makes CS a less than satisfactory option. For this reason, I do not recommend CreateSpace for for VOD distribution.
If you want to make your HD content available through Amazon VOD distribution, you will have to go through an Amazon approved aggregator.
iTunes: How to Distribute You Movie on iTunes
iTunes is one of the most popular destinations for both filmmakers and movie loving audiences. Similar to Amazon, getting your title into iTunes will require that you utilize a distributor or aggregator.
Keep in mind that iTunes only wants content that will look great on Apple devices. As a consequence, iTunes has some the highest standards for encoding. So don’t be surprised if your movie doesn’t pass QC on the first attempt. This is common and the encoding house should be able to fix most issues in-house.
Subscription VOD Distribution (SVOD)
Subscription Video On Demand allows subscribers to sign up for a service, pay a monthly fee and in exchange, have access to unlimited programming. This model is great for consumers because, well, they can watch anything. Getting your title onto an SVOD platform could be a great for discovery.
Netflix: How to Distribute You Movie on Netflix
Netflix will not make an offer for your movie unless they are interested in your movie. Think of Netflix the same way you think about HBO or Showtime. And like all premium subscription channels, they want movies with a strong “name” cast, social media stars and stuff that won major festival awards.
If your movie meets these criteria, your best bet for Netflix (assuming you are in their database) is working with an aggregator with a track record for negotiating great deals with them. As a possible downside, unless you strike a great licensing deal you may be a little disheartened if your title gets a million views and you have not seen a dime.
Amazon Prime: How to Distribute You Movie on Amazon Prime
Going beyond their TVOD service, Amazon has expanded their product offering to include an SVOD service called Amazon Prime. Through Amazon Prime, filmmakers can make their movies available for discovery. And Unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime actually pays you every time your movie is streamed!
While this is equal to pennies on the dollar (you net roughly 5 cents per stream), having your movie available to millions of subscribers could potentially add up.
Ad Supported VOD Distribution (AVOD)
Ad supported, AVOD platforms make money by placing targeted advertising in front of the viewer. This type of model can be win-win, as many ad supported platforms provide the filmmaker with a portion of the ad revenue. The viewer gets to watch your movie without making a transaction.
Hulu: How to Distribute Your Movie on Hulu
In the United States, Hulu has gained popularity as a great way to watch popular television shows and movies on demand. Hulu makes money by peppering content with advertisements. And assuming they acquire your title, Hulu will pay you a portion of the advertising revenue.
Getting your title in Hulu once again requires working with an aggregator who can make a pitch on your behalf. Like any platform, Hulu is looking for great content. While trends change monthly, if you have a documentary or a niche specific title, Hulu may be worth exploring.
For entrepreneurial filmmakers, Hulu offers awesome social sharing tools. Filmmakers can embed the Hulu player on their sites and drop links in social media. And from there, no matter where the content is shared or viewed, filmmakers get paid.
Website VOD Distribution
While best practices emphasize the importance of getting your movies seen in selling in the popular video on demand marketplaces, there are many filmmakers who have strong audience engagement and heavy, targeted internet traffic. It makes sense for these filmmakers to sell directly to their audiences.
Vimeo: How to Distribute Your Movie on Vimeo
If you’re looking for an easy way to upload movies and embed Vimeo on your site, the Vimeo player may make sense. Aside from helping you collect payment and stream movies, this player also has a strong social media component and promotes word of mouth advertising and social sharing.
VHX: How to Distribute Your Movie on VHX
Every filmmaker needs a website. And as a result, VHX provides filmmakers with an easy way to upload your movies, set your own prices and sell everywhere. In addition to your movie, VHX allows you to sell bonus content, create premium editions and utilize Pay-What-You-Want pricing.
While there are no guarantees in the movie business, having the ability to make, market and sell your movies without the traditional middle-man is exciting. And if you need a little extra help on the marketing side, make sure you check out www.HowToSellYourMovie.com