From DouglasHorn.com: Vimeo has just launched its new VOD service that offers an exciting new potential for independent filmmakers to release their works online for pay. But how good is the deal really and where does it fit in the landscape of existing services? Let’s take a look.
Why VOD matters
Not long ago, VOD was a little throw-away right that got included in film sales but often didn’t even get exploited, let alone bring in any money—at least where independent films were concerned. So why the growing interest now? Because DVDs are dead.
Because DVDs are dead.
I had to say it twice. It’s kind of a big deal. DVDs—essentially the entire Home Video nut that spawned the independent film movement (back in the VHS/Betamax days) and has sustained it till now, is dead. People don’t really buy ‘em anymore. Wait a minute, you say, You are wrong! My cousin knows a guy who bought a DVD just a couple years ago…
Sure, a few DVDs still get sold. For blockbuster films. Or for very niche stuff that is more movement than entertainment. But if you have an independent film without stars then as far as mainstream distributors are concerned, DVDs are dead. You aren’t going to be making any money off them from distributors, but you’re welcome to make your own and sell them on your web site if you want. …And that brings us back to VOD.
VOD will be the new DVD
When was the last time you bought a DVD, then popped it into your player and watched it? I’m willing to bet that you’ve watched a video on your computer or mobile phone a lot more recently than that. VOD—whether it be via iTunes, online, or your cable system—is the future of home video. So why make DVDs of your independent film or series to sell through snail mail when you can sell a link to a downloadable file instead? You can save the postage, fulfillment costs, inventory, and time. And your customers can watch it right away and on whatever device they wish to.
VOD has two drawbacks for independent film and series creators—audiences are not habituated to paying for online video (yet), and there VOD services available are not tuned to independent films (yet). Both of these problems are rapidly sorting themselves out as more people get used to buying online and more services are launching to meet this growing market. So it’s worth looking at the VOD landscape for independent film and series creators.
VOD services for independents
VOD can take a lot of different forms. All of them give viewers nearly instant access to films for pay—but the specifics are very different from both the viewers’ and creators’ perspective. Here’s a rundown of the major players.