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What now? (and business development thoughts)

April 17, 2009

Now that Season 1 has ended, the big question is “what now”? Here’s a quick summary of what we’re trying to accomplish in the next few months.

Basically, there’s momentum for us to do Season 2 (especially coming off our season finale and the Streamy Awards). This is our goal, and we’d like to shoot during the summer. However (and this is a big HOWEVER), it is important for us to secure financing. Season 1 was a fun, but an incredibly difficult challenge. In many cases, we got really lucky with scoring great locations, having a tremendous cast and crew who basically worked for free, and the fortune of schedules aligning for us to pull it off. I’m amazed that we actually managed to do 37 episodes. That said, Season 2 is contingent on having money to pay the people who deserve it, and make sure that we’re not forced to bootstrap our way through production like we did previously. I’m confident when I say, we cannot accomplish the same level of quality of Season 1 without financing the second time around. So, with that all said, here’s what we’re doing:

  • We sent out a survey to our viewers to get a pulse on how they felt about Season 1 and any feedback they may have for us in Season 2
  • I met with Greg Neichen of Placevine the other day and we had a great chat around his company’s capabilities. Placevine brings marketers and content producers together, and it’s exactly the type of service we’re looking for. (FYI, I had been planning on writing something up on this company for a while now….)
  • We have a warm lead with a potential product sponsor and we’re in talks with their agency on a product integration deal (note: I’m not going to name specifics, as I think that’s tacky when trying to build a relationship).
  • I recently had lunch with Paul from For Your Imagination, and he gave me the low down on branded entertainment economics. I came out of that meeting feeling like I had a whole new understanding of how to pitch the series from a product integration view. Paul is the man. I hope to work with those guys in the future.
  • Not exactly business development-related for Season 2, but we’re going to distribute entire Season 1 through Blip.TV, which I’ve always been a fan of. It sounds like we might be distributed through the Sony Bravia too, which is pretty cool

So that’s a quick update. I’ll be back as we figure out new ways to approach the financing angle. But the plan of attack right now is to line up a product sponsor. The particular product we’re going after now aligns really well with our Season 2 storyline so I’m optimistic. The real catch is how to guarantee viewership to the advertiser, which is a completely different topic (and hence, will be written about later).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. juice permalink
    April 18, 2009 1:36 pm

    I hope it’s related to Snickers!

  2. April 19, 2009 4:22 pm

    Thanks for this post Andrew. Just the kind of thing we’ve been thinking about as we’re now half-way through our first season of Zerks Log and thinking season two and also b/c we’re in pre-production on another series.

    The financing issues definitely factor heavily into our thinking. Interested to hear more about your chat with Placevine as they’re a company I’ve started reading more about.

    And great to hear you’ll be working with We have partnered with them and they are great to work with. Zerks Log just became available on Boxee and the Sony TVs last week! FIOS is next!

  3. April 19, 2009 6:03 pm

    Steve, congrats on your NTV write-up by the way….

    Yes, BlipTV was always on our radar but we put all resources into youtube, given the interactivity of the site. Now that season 1 is done, i’m all for using Blip’s player and hope to revamp our current website shortly. I think they’ll distribute us through Sony as well. Keep me posted on what you guys are up to and congrats on your run here!

  4. May 11, 2009 9:26 am

    Views and funding go hand in hand. If you cannot solve the view problem it is hard to demonstrate the value of advertising. Lonelygirl15 suffered from this problem for a long time and LG15: The Resistance is on hold for lack of financing. The reason KateModern worked was that it had heavy front end promotion from Bebo. If you look at the Harper’s
    Globe numbers (which are affected by embeds in multiple non-related Eqal channels on YouTube) you find that the only video to have what could be considered good view numbers from the standpoint of advertisers is the video that received a free spotlight on YouTube. Bottom line is that you need the content host, be it YouTube or Hulu etc etc to promote a series or you are fighting an up hill battle. Even conventional media attention such as the Harper’s Globe commercials on CBS TV have failed to drive significant traffic so the key seems to be to have significant promotion on the “major social network” that primarily host the series.

  5. May 11, 2009 10:16 am

    Great thoughts, @modelmotion. I agree that traditionally views and funding go hand in hand. In our case, that puts us at a disadvantage, although we are starting to distribute more broadly and find that some of these other channels are actually bringing in a lot of views.

    That said, I think there’s a “branded entertainment” play which is less contingent on how Season1 did in terms of views. If we are able to seamlessly integrate product into the show, and distribute via a company like FYI, who can GUARANTEE the viewership, then the story is a little different.

    In some ways, whether THP has a second season, or whether it’s positioned as a brand new series, as long as the economics make sense and the brand alignment is there, I think we would have a shot. This would be a very different approach than EQAL who was able to start from a point of having a large build-in base. We are going to position ourselves as creating a smart series that we can integrate with product and then media buy our way into guarantee viewership. Or at least, that’s the idea as of now….

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