If necessity is the mother of invention, then the launch of www.streamit.tv is the motherlode for independent filmmakers. As Streamit founder Jeff Coffey said, “We’re leveraging on all the cutting edge technology and bringing that into a turnkey eCommerce platform.” The company is rolling out their official launch this weekend at the 2011 National Speakers Association Convention in Anaheim, CA. Coffey is speaking about the dying breed of DVD sales and the advantages of selling content online.
Video hosting sites have flooded the Web since 1998 and mostly with video sharing sites like Youtube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. Major studios like MTV marketed short films on sites like AtomFilms and iFilm, offering shared revenue per-view with filmmakers. No matter where your eyes ended up in this multitude of services, you most likely lost interest once the buffering began.
Indie filmmakers have long had the ability to make great low budget films and market them through social media, but no way to profitably distribute them. Studios and production companies don’t want to deal with anything that’s not going to generate high 6 figure revenues. Streamit will be a huge gateway for filmmakers who can’t get the distribution to reach a target audience they’ve already established. Of course with superb content and ingenious marketing, a producer on Streamit could easily generate 6 figure revenues.
The “cutting edge technology” Coffey is talking about is Adaptive Bit Rate Delivery, which allows streaming video on any device, mobile or desktop, without lots of buffer time. It adjusts to individual browser specificications of your browser to optimize delivery and eliminates interruption to keep information flowing. This is a triumph in itself for filmmakers, but the added ecommerce feature of Streamit is a long awaited game changer in distribution.
Eavesdrop at any film festival and you’ll hear raves about technology making shooting and post-production a cakewalk. Listen further and the conversation likely veers into frustrated stumbles over distribution hurdles. While you can distribute a film on video hosting sites, there is no viewer patience for buffering and there’s hardly been a worthwhile revenue stream. This is where Streamit seems to open the floodgates with an innovative model for online distribution.
The site was born out of Coffey’s attempts to get video from conferences up on hosting services like Ustream. In theory, any organization can stream their video content and charge for it over the internet on a variety of all-in-one services. Yet, there’s a reason none of them are big news in independent film: it’s not the future. Sites like Indieflix made promising moves to get independent features online for purchase and rental, but they control what gets distributed. Even with Youtube’s new rental service they slap their brand all over it and take a percentage through revenue sharing on Google AdSense.
Streamit allows producers to upload anything in just about any format, as long as it’s not X-rated and its delivery is a quality most have yet to experience. Their eCommerce platform allows complete control over purchase price or rental fee and producer’s keep all the profit. It also displays content as its own entity without the noise of “related videos” littering your page. Instead of relying on being linked through related content, the site uses social media syndication and optimization to help promote it.
It’s designed to plug a producer right into their audience with a customized Nielsen-styled analysis of who’s viewing what, when and for how long. The analytics track activity per viewer, which means seeing exactly where a viewer logged out, paused, skipped ahead or went back. It could do what Google analytics did for web marketing by providing needed information to improve content. Slap on the capability to interact live or with social media and you’ve got a fully integrated streamline of film marketing and distribution. At a $149.95 monthly fee and a small streaming cost per hour, a serious producer has no excuse. The rights are all yours, the profit is all yours, design of the interface is customizable and the content streams beautifully. Higher quality streaming will become the expected standard, but Streamit’s revolution comes with the power they put right in the producer’s pocket.