Buying YouTube was one of the smartest things Google ever did. Same goes for Facebook’s pivot to video, and that’s not to mention the Netflix juggernaut that has gatecrashed the cosy worlds of Hollywood studios and network TV, and in so doing has upended media consumption to make streamed content increasingly the preferred mode of consumption.
Right across the spectrum of content, streamed video is the key communication method in a world where the days have shrunk and attention spans narrowed in our time-poor lives. We want total control over access to what we want, when we want it.
YouTube is becoming the verb for video in the way that googling has become the verb for searching the internet. YouTube seems to be bringing all video output unto itself with magnetic strength, from how-tos to vlogs from teenage thought-leaders with their fingers on the zeitgeist.
That’s great for consumers, assuming you are the type that doesn’t mind being subjected to adverts and product placements because there are many others who are mightily upset by the stream of annoyance that undermines enjoyable absorption.
Indie filmmakers left out in the cold
And when it comes to feature films you can even find those on YouTube, sometimes without the permission of the creators. That might be good for consumers but it is definitely bad for independent filmmakers. After all, piracy is theft, and sadly YouTube has only belatedly implemented the technology to weed out copyright infringement.
But that could be the least of the indie filmmakers’ problems when you consider that 80% of films never get seen by anybody – at least piracy could be seen as validation of sort, from an artistic view if not a financial one.
The central issue for indies, then, is how they get their films seen in the first place, and in environments where piracy is impossible and monetization uncomplicated and efficient.
It’s fantastic that Netflix and Amazon are putting billions into creating original content but that’s no help for independent filmmakers.
And what of the film aficionados who prefer not to watch the formulaic fare on offer from the Hollywood studios, and would like a little more thought and art to be brought to the films they view?
OK, so the filmmakers have done what seems like the hard part in raising the money, hiring the actors and shooting the movie. But perhaps the even harder part comes when the issues of where to store the film so it doesn’t get pirated, where to host it for streaming so it actually gets seen and how to make money out of the beloved opus, are considered.
The indie filmmakers’ friend
These are the problems that StreamSpace, a blockchain project building a streaming video on demand (VoD) platform, is addressing and solving.
Let’s start with the question of storage and the attendant issues of piracy risk – remember the breach at Sony Pictures?
With blockchain an advanced storage system is now possible which is way ahead of anything available in centralised systems in which films are stored on a single server.
With a film sliced into multiple parts and stored across a network of decentralised servers, with each slice encrypted, piracy is extremely difficult to execute unless the criminals have access to a quantum computer!
Monetization system that works for creators
For creators of video content the availability of hosting services that are provided free of charge is not to be sniffed at, but it brings us neatly to the second issue with the YouTube’s or Vimeo’s of our 21st century video-on-demand world: there is in fact always a price to pay and it is paid through submission to the platform’s revenue model, however lopsided that may be from the creator’s perspective.
On YouTube, a filmmaker’s revenue is not earned from views of content alone but from the engagement of the audience with the advertising, broken down into cost per view, pre-roll (before the video starts), in-search (delivered in the search results) and in-display (shown in the suggested video column on the right of the screen). Taking all that together you will be lucky to get $2-3 per 1,000 views, assuming an average level of engagement.
Add to that the fact that YouTube introduced a 10,000 threshold for views before you start getting paid anything at all. That’s a pretty high threshold but what is the video creator to do?
Worse, as the viewer it makes for an awful experience compared to the uncluttered viewing available at the movies or on a streaming service like Netflix. And for the filmmaker the whole revenue earning process is opaque to say the least, with the centralised platform operator firmly in charge.
Blockchain streamers to the rescue
Filmmakers need to do a lot of admin to make sure a film gets made, seen and earns money. The last of those can be pretty onerous if it means tracking down earnings from across multiple showings at myriad physical locations or trying to make sure you’re being paid properly by various online platforms.
With StreamSpace as our example, at its heart is an immutable ledger of transactions perfectly suited for tracking earnings and payments and stopping piracy.
Even the most admin-averse filmmaker can now be in full control of the accountancy that is essential to making sure potential profits don’t slip through those creative fingers, and to make sure that the money is there to go forward to produce the next cinematic gem.
Blockchain VoD platforms offer a new paradigm that provides a platform for success for filmmakers by, at a stroke, removing the chief worries confronting them in the business realm, so that they can concentrate on making great work.
You may be well advised not to miss this showing.
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