Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

More on Facebook’s ‘Video-First’ Strategy and Exec Hires. Apple Sits on Fence

In this post: more on Facebook’s Originals and a glance over at Apple.

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Video-First’ strategy for Facebook’s 1.8 Bn active monthly users goes beyond Live video feeds and clips sent by your BF’s.
  • 97% of the company’s $7 Bn in Q3 ’16 revenue (up 56% vs. Q3 ’15!) was advertising-based.
  • To maintain that growth, Facebook needs to grab TV advertising dollars from the channels.

Facebook’s Scale

  • Zuckerberg’s initiative is backed by the company’s daunting growth and scale, in subscribers…

Monthly active Facebook users worldwide
4Q 2016

  • … and financial resources:

  • Amazon is also doubling down on video, with a unique model that leverages how Prime video subscribers are also loyal Amazon retail customers.

SVOD is expected to top $100 bn in annual revenues in the next decade.  Read more of my original coverage of the players and deals, available now for $39:95:

“VOD EXPLAINED: Opportunities, Success Factors & Deal Terms for Netflix, Amazon and VOD Platforms”

Facebook Originals Adds Staff

  • Testing the long-form documentary runs against the conventional wisdom about Facebook’s video strategy.
  • But the social media giant needs to be a player – or at least a disrupter — across the landscape of video formats, from Live streams to award-winning scripted series and feature docs.
  • A handful of A-List producers are deep in negotiation to deliver feature docs and specials in the $2-3 Mn budget range.
  • Facebook is hiring long-form documentary development execs.

Facebook has hired Mina Lefevre, MTV’s executive VP and head of scripted development, as head of development for original programming, Variety has learned.

Lefevre will report to Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy, who joined the social giant from IAC’s CollegeHumor last summer.

Lefevre’s hire comes as Facebook has embarked on a new initiative, led by Van Veen, to acquire or fund original scripted and unscripted shows for exclusive distribution on the service. In a statement in December, Van Veen said the company’s goal is to “kick-start an ecosystem of partner content” for a new video tab on Facebook’s mobile app, which has not yet been widely rolled out.

Facebook has been approaching various partners, looking at projects including original and licensed scripted, unscripted and sports content that takes advantage of mobile and “the social interaction unique to the platform,” according to Van Veen: “Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world.” – Variety: Read more coverage of Facebook Originals

  • I”ll keep you posted.

Facebook Case Study

  • BTW: don’t miss my Choppertown / Facebook Documentary Case Study.
  • Read how a rookie independent producer created a Facebook-based documentary business with 2 Mn friends.
  • The message of Choppertown is that documentaries can make money from Facebook.
  • It is the story about how a deficit-funded, observational documentary evolved into a ground-breaking Facebook “channel.”
  • Read about Zack Coffman‘s FB marketing engine Choppertown.

Where’s Apple?

  • Analysts keep waiting for cashed up Apple to join the online giants by announcing a big fat pipeline of originals.
  • Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services discussed Apple’s video plans at this week’s CODE MEDIA conference, as reported by VideoNuze.
  • He didn’t have much news: With Propagate partner Ben Silverman, Apple is readying for the Spring release of “Planet of the Apps”, an elimination show for app developers that features Jessica Alba and Will.i.Am.
  • Apple also acquired an unscripted series based on “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden.
  • Takeaway: Maybe Apple doesn’t need to get into the risky business of developing originals when it owns the ubiquitous iPhone device and iTunes platform?

Next Speaking Engagement:

AIDC 2017
Melbourne, March 5-8

Instant Documentary: So you think you know Live Video?

  • LIVE! video is immediate, unscripted, and it loudly rings the bell for “authentic”.
  • Broadcasters and Cab/Sat channels are green-lighting live prime time ‘events’ as well as series. And they’re commissioning hybrid forms of live content for their social media platforms. Their targets are the young viewers who are drifting away from the channels. Dominating the conversation is social media, where viewing of LIVE mobile video content has exploded.
  • This panel explores how producers, channels and online content services are all testing live video solutions that will compete in a Facebook and YouTube world. The panelists describe the demanding editorial, technical and scheduling challenges of delivering LIVE programming.
  • Learn why LIVE! is the wave of the future, driven by channels who are redefining themselves as video-based brands that operate across platforms, and as social media leaders double down on their investment in original video content.


Laura Fleury, A&E Networks International, New York
Nicola Harvey, Buzzfeed, Sydney
Graham Wallington, WildEarth, Johannesburg
Moderator: Peter Hamilton (ex-Sunshine Tech)


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