Ever since the rise of web series as a viable form of entertainment, many content creators have found that the task of producing and developing web series is only part of their job. Given the fact that virtually all of these producers work on an extremely limited budget, competing against so many other forms of entertainment, just producing a great show isn’t enough. Promotion is just as important, and it’s a task that also falls on content creators. Having to balance those tasks have proven to be a huge challenge – new startup Digiriot seeks to lighten the load.
This July, the new web series platform Digiriot, created and developed by OMFGeek founder Jeff Koenig, is set to launch with “SciFiRiot”, its first of several different channels that feature web series in various formats. The new company prides itself on being “founded by creators, for the work of creators,” and takes a multi-pronged approach to cross-promotion and monetization for content creators. In addition to its social media outreach, there will also be a Youtube presence, not to mention special premium content exclusively on its official web site (see links below).
Digiriot grew out of Koenig’s previous web series venture, OMFGeek, and while his new project will provide further exposure for content creators, there is one key difference that sets Digiriot apart: “The big difference is that, where OMFGeek developed some great shows (some of which have moved over to the new company), it lacked Digiriot’s ability to tie them all together and make them reinforce each other. We’ve been working on Digiriot since last year – there are a lot of factors to nail down when you have so much going on at once. We first established the overall business plans and goals and then, starting around January, really started nailing down the shows, and the teams making them.”
Koenig feels that unlike Youtube itself, Digiriot’s mission isn’t necessarily to be a competitive distribution platform, but rather, one that will focus on providing content creators with a greater chance of exposure and success for their shows. “It’s past the time, in my opinion, where launching a competing distribution company is a good option. Having an owned site to send people is still a great idea (see Smosh), but the distribution wars are pretty much over – what’s needed now is for the content to take the lead in growing the industry.”
The network will launch with its first new program, the sci-fi fantasy/adventure series THE MOVIE ADVENTURE CLUB. “It’s a show about four friends who find an alien bracelet that has the power to transport the wearer into any movie ever made. They form a secret club and take turns having adventures in some of their favorite (and least favorite) films,” Koenig says. Each channel will contain different kinds of shows, providing viewers with a wider variety of content to choose from. In addition, finding that content will be easier than ever.
“By keeping our channels focused and manageable, it makes it easier for people to find all our shows just from finding any one video on the channel. We’re also marketing each show to the specific audience that show was made for. There’s an over-all sci-fi theme to the channel (SciFiRiot) that makes cross-promotion between shows easier, but that doesn’t mean all of the shows are intended for exactly the same audience. There’s a lot of variations to being a sci-fi fan, and a thrilling futuristic drama should be marketed differently from, say, a great geeky talk show discussing the genre. Both shows can live on our channel, though,” says Koenig.
Producing each series has been a challenge, but Koenig believes that it’s a process that comes with own share of rewards. “We’re a relatively small team, so there’s a lot of hats being worn by everyone. We started with eight shows on the schedule, and have since had to push one back due to production delays – but that still leaves seven shows. Of those, five are being produced in-house (four here in NY, one in LA). All the usual production logistics are there – casting, props, set design, writing, scheduling, etc., and all of that is crazy enough for just one show, let alone 5. Having a great team, a production studio and in-house equipment helps a lot. The other two shows are being produced by outside creators and licensed by us to be part of the channel’s programming slate, which is something we definitely want to do more of in the future.”
While gaining viewers for each web series is always a plus for content creators, monetization is what Digiriot is all about. “For a while now, as an industry we’ve been pretty focused on advertising as our primary method of monetization. The problem with that is there are very few shows in the space that can make that work – it takes a lot of episodes and consistent content to make the math work out on ad revenue alone. While we’re certainly bringing advertisers into the equation, we’ve actively looked for ways to maximize multiple revenue streams for all of our shows, and having a multi-show strategy really helps there. Ad revenue, sponsorships, merchandising, licensing, all of that and more gets easier when you have more than one show to offer.”
Digiriot’s sales team will provide instant monetization through ads that will run during each episode of every show that airs on the network. In addition, the in house sales unit will generate higher CPMs (cost per mile) than what any web series could gain on Youtube alone. Other methods of monetization are pooled, providing each show the opportunity to reach a wider audience, and to earn money. Finally, creators can also negotiate their percentage of overall revenues generated by each series. The goal is to help web series creators gain a significant return on their investments.
Social media also will play a huge role in the success of each series, Koenig says, although he knows that just interacting with fans isn’t enough to gain viewers. “I look at Twitter and Facebook (and Tumblr, Pinterest, and of course YouTube itself) as places to meet and converse with people who enjoy what we do. They’re more like conversation platforms than marketing and promotion outlets. They do both, of course, but we’ve learned the hard way that it takes more than just a Twitter account or Facebook page to market to new audiences. Generally, people who find your social media profiles already know about you – they had to get the link or twitter handle somewhere, after all. Paid marketing is still the best way to get in front of someone who’s never heard of you before.”
While Koenig and his team hope to achieve long term success with Digiriot, his mission for the project is simple: to help web series creators not only gain audiences, but also to stay afloat financially. “Just creating an environment where web series can be break even or better would be a huge leap forward for a lot of creators. The vast majority of shows lose money, either the creators’ (money) or, worse – thanks to sites like Kickstarter – the audiences’. It’s horrible. There are better ways to do things, and we hope Digiriot’s model proves to be one of them.”
ON THE WEB: www.digiriot.com