Choppertown evolved from a credit card-financed first documentary to a profitable Facebook documentary channel.
- We profiled Choppertown‘s origins here (Part 1).
- And the takeoff as a hyper-niche Facebook Video channel here (Part 2).
- My podcast audio conversation with producer Zack Coffman is here.
This week, here are my Takeaways…
1. Facebook Video: The Scale and Drive to Win
Size + Momentum
- Facebook earned $2 Bn in 2Q’16 net income, doubling in 6 months.
- Monthly active users increased to 1.71 billion.
- 1.1 billion use Facebook daily.
- From a standing start in mobile just 4 years ago, Facebook generated $5.2 Bn or 84% of its quarterly ad revenue from mobile.
- Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently stressed that having conquered mobile, video is the #1 strategic priority for the social media giant.
- Zuckerberg said “We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and service.”
- FB execs recently predicted that the service will evolve to being ‘all video’!
- FB videos are a good bet to earn an increasing share of each consumer’s total video viewing experience.
- The shift to online viewing is strongest among young viewers.
- FB and Snapchat each offer factual producers a platform to share and promote their films.
- It’s a complicated world –a Wild West — that can be harnessed to attract viewers and drive multiple revenue streams.
- But that effort requires tremendous focus by content owners on the analytical tools of direct response marketing.
- These bus dev skills don’t come easy to classic producers and documentarians who rely on traditional commissioning or foundation funding models.
- Facebook Video will create new winners, just as Cable/Satellite channels did for a new wave of hungry young producers who weren’t stuck in the Broadcast network production model.
- Facebook is dipping its toes into original content.
- It signed deals with almost 140 media companies and celebrities.
- That’s a commitment of $50 million for guaranteed live-streaming content for Facebook Live.
- The top 15 providers account for $21.4 mn, or almost 43% of the total $50 mn.
- At the top of the list are BuzzFeed ($3.1 mn), New York Times ($3 mn) and CNN ($2.5 mn).
- And FB is spending over $2 mn to encourage YouTube stars to experiment with Facebook Live.
- The expense is a drop in the bucket, but a start!
2. Choppertown: A Mini-thematic Network
- Choppertown has evolved from documentary producer into a model mini-network for the Facebook Era.
- It’s a fascinating mix of a garage industry and ‘best practice leader’ for documentarians.
Why Did Choppertown Succeed?
- Choppertown is strongly branded.
- It targets a niche audience that has an intense passion for its content.
- The audience is coveted by certain advertisers and brands.
- It offers a mix of content, including owned- and acquired- video programs as well as graphics and text
- The programs are affordable: They are either originals produced at a relatively low cost, are sponsored, or are acquisitions based on a revshare model without MG’s (minimum guarantees).
- There are multiple, rapidly evolving revenue streams.
- Choppertown sells products directly to consumers without a middleman.
- It accepts sponsored Facebook messages that target the audience demo’s…
- …and will soon earn subscription fees.
- The venture is intensely managed on the classic direct marketing ‘Test & Roll Out’ model.
The Short Life of the Business Model
- Our previous ‘moving image’ business models, like projected cinema in theaters, broadcast, and cable/satellite, have lasted for generations.
- The shift from VHS to DVD to SVOD and DTO (Download-to-Own) shows how the period of dominance by a platform or format has shortened in the 21st Century
- Today’s complex online video models seem to have a half-life of about twelve months.
- I wonder how Zack and Choppertown will pivot as the Facebook video model matures and FB’s dominance of social media is challenged by Snapchat and the inevitable outsiders??
Reading: Two Unique Case Studies
- Advertiser-funded Programming. The Factory Media Case Study: ‘The Indestructibles’ Reaches 34 Million, a Case Study that we wrote after Realscreen Summit 2016.
- Our evergreen Case Study of Globe Trekker and the PBS corporate sponsorship model.
Contact details for Zack Coffman
- Thanks to Zack for sharing his experience.
- Here are his contacts: LinkedIn.com/in/zackcoffman
Original Analysis for Documentary Producers & Executives
Opportunities, Success Factors & Deal Terms
for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo and other OTT/VOD Platforms
From DocumentaryTelevision.com with
contributions from distributor Kinonation’s Roger Jackson
Read More Here.
Download Now: $39.95
- Wildscreen, Bristol UK, October 10-14: WildLIVE! With BBC’s James Honeyborne (“Big Blue Live”), Nat Geo Wild’s Dan Salerno and WildEarth’s Graham Wallington (“safariLIVE”)
- WIVF’s ScriptDC, Washington DC, November 5: Documentary Distribution Landscape, moderated by Maryanne Culpepper
- Realscreen Summit Master Class, Washington DC, January 23: Production Budgeting with Elizabeth Ventura, the ‘budget whisperer’.
- AIDC, Melbourne, March 5-8. Btw, I’m very excited to join AIDC’s Advisory Committee. Great team! Great city! Great month to be there!!
I’ve picked up this a bit late but it’s a terrific read – to see how a self-funded indie doc about a ‘niche’ pursuit can become a brand that has more social engagement than Nike is truly inspiring!
Comments are closed.