Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Am Going Home...

to collapse and watch STARSHIP TROOPERS 3: MARAUDER.

It has been a marathon sprint to get to Comic Con and the way life has been handing me lemons lately I haven't had the time to take my shoes off, wash my feet, jump up and down and make lemonade.

But tomorrow's another day and I need those lemons to ripen a bit before I stomp.

I've been reading that homework that Scott Kirsner had for us the other day and every word of the first article regarding where the big money in the internet was really sent my blood pressure through the roof.

Apparently Break A Leg - a web series with 1.5 M hits per episode -- that's been sponsored by several companies-- and only cost $500 / episode to produce - hasn't made any money. They have a Cafepress store with all sorts of merchandise in it and they still can't make a dime.

Well, duh.

Who wants to buy the crap they're selling? Really? Does slapping their logo on it really make it special? Answer - no.

What we have here is a complete failure by a producer to see who his audience is and come up with the stuff they like. I look at the merchandise and it all looks slapped together instead of designed. No slogans, no catchy, vibrant designs that are large enough to see. Not even a ringtone that I could see...or hear.

And really, who thinks that Break a Leg is merchandise-able in the first place?
Do we really need to see or want to buy merchandise from a show about producing a sitcom?
Am I the ONLY one who sees that this project didn't stand a chance in hell of selling anything other than a DVD collection of its webisodes? The producers say they need a TV deal to continue.

No guys - the fat lady sang a long time ago. She was singing the woes of poor cash flow.

When you got the deal with Motorola to sponsor you - you should have had someone out there lining up your next sponsor. You knew the cash-cow was going to run out. The clock was ticking and you should have had your agent lining up more work, more sponsorships, etc...building the business.

How is it that is making money these days? Could it be they did things the right way with an agent and ad sponsors? Could it be the concept of their show was instantly merchandise-able? Could it be they treated it as a business and grew it with a DVD release, merchandise and a movie deal (as well as a deal for Ninja's creators to handle the ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES remake)

Well, duh...

This isn't rocket science guys. The fact you were befuddled that you had to keep your day jobs is amusing to say the least, but garners no sympathy from me and mine. Every startup business (which this is - a startup business) and its founders went through the same thing.
They succeeded.

You are not new. You are not special. You're incredibly egotistical to think that just because you make it-- it means they will come. You also signed deals with SAG (what were you thinking? You couldn't afford that!) .

There IS a good revenue model for the web.

You guys just didn't follow it.


Roger Alford said...

Anxious to get your reaction to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Have you read Whedon's Master Plan on the site?

Cunningham said...

Roger -

Thanks for bringing that up and I will add it to the post itself.

It is brilliant. It's also sort of anomalous because Whedon is bringing his presence and fan base from other shows to this. What he's accomplishing in days is something that other folks - unknowns - will take longer to accomplish, but it can be done.


He's releasing all sorts of free stuff to spread the word - comics, banners, etc... He's letting us in on what he wants to accomplish, and is letting us be part of something bigger. He also teases us that the DVD release will contain "must have" content... heard that before?

His merchandise is also much better looking. NPH in goggles on a shirt?


Yuri B. said...

What's not written about us in any article is the fact that Break a Leg was never designed to make money. It was made to go to the next step, not to be a cash cow.

Why, specifically? Because a well-shot, fully-produced show isn't going to make any real money. Even with sponsors, you won't be able to line up the kind of cash to pay a cast, get locations, pay the crew, buy props and so on and so forth.

Break a Leg was made a calling card for us, and it's done very well with that.

That said, everyone who says that internet TV is replacing regular TV? Not until the model changes, not until someone, somewhere makes a show that pays for itself ON the internet, will that happen.

And when I say show, by the way, I mean fully-scripted, multi-location, actual TV-quality show. Not a Ninja talking to camera (even though I'm a fan of the ninja.)

Thanks for your thoughts, though!
-Yuri, that Break a Leg guy.

Cunningham said...

Yuri -

Thank you for weighing in and adding to the discussion.

Your points are valid, and will be the subject of my next post.

I am glad to see that you aren't as whiny as you were portrayed in the article. Please feel free to add more to the discussion.



Yuri B. said...

Whiny we are not. Discontent with the celebration of low quality and poor content on the Internet? Certainly.

Thanks for writing.


P.S. I loved Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog -- hopefully it's the start of a trend!

Unknown said...

Nice post and always food for thought.
I ALWAYS befuddled that I have to keep my day job, but that is because I hate day jobs.

John Donald Carlucci
Astonishing Adventures Magazine