Dailymotion is teaming up with Flattr to create an end-to-end crowdfunded social video network meaning everyone who creates online video content could get compensated by the audience. Personally, I think it's brilliant and could revolutionize the TV and web series pilot workflow.
Imagine this if you will, some aspiring web series content creators have an idea, story and the means to make a quick 5-minute pilot. They take that pilot and throw it up on the web and, much like Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites, state that they need X dollars to make season one of the show which consists of Y episodes.
The audience responds and floods them with micro-transactions that are more than enough to create the season, maybe even two or three seasons. Season one of the web series gets made, maybe wins an IAWTV award and a forward-thinking TV network like say SyFy or AMC digs the series and picks it up for a full-on television series. Something similar to that is why we have Sanctuary on SyFy and why Drunk History is heading to TV. Lisa Kudrow has Web Therapy on Showtime now as well. So screen convergence isn't just the content per screen but the cross-over from one medium to the other, I wonder if a TV show will ever stop airing and turn into an online only show.
The deal between Dailymotion and Flattr, a social micropayment startup, could help enable scenarios like the one I've outlined above. Their goals is to allow online audiences to directly donate to the creators and producers of the online video as they wish. Think Google +1 or Facebook Like but with a micro-transaction behind it. That's what Flattr is all about and for the most part, they've been growing in other content areas. If you check out their catalog it includes music, videos, software, games, podcasts, photos, comics blogs & news, charities and even just profiles. According to Linus Olsson, Co-Founder & CEO of Flattr, in the past year and a half of the service being live they are about to reach the one million Flattr milestone. How much of that is video?
Our users have added over over 10,000 things into the video category. These are videos but also websites that deal with video/film etc. As users self tag then not all video-related materials are correctly placed in the video category but it’s a good ballpark number. Since users self-tag their content, we don't have an exhaustive count of how many pieces of content are available within the Video category, but are pleased to note that it's one of our more popular categories alongside software, podcasts and charities.
Sure, YouTube has been pushing money into the creation of web video content and AOL, Yahoo, Hulu and Netflix are all on board as well. However, that's the platform funding the content, this is the audience funding the content which, as we've seen with some recent video game Kickstarter projects, can raise millions in a very short time. Perhaps even to the point where entire programming schedules online are being fully funded through audience donations allowing for a wide array of content to be created and offered with no or minimal advertising interruption.
“Dailymotion is pioneering a new world for video makers to earn a living just by broadcasting their own content on our site,” said Roland Hamilton, Managing Director for Dailymotion US. “By empowering video creators to take control and earn money from their work, no longer will online video be limited to an unpaid pursuit.”
The thing about the Flattr/Dailmotion deal that separates it from Kickstarter is that the content has to be made first, where the latter is more like "give us the money to make this," Flattr is more like "I'm giving you money because you made this and I like it."
Flattr keeps just 10% of the money you might receive which isn't so bad really. But since it's a micropayment site they've got preset spending limits on things like
€100 €250 / $330 (recently increased) a month, another thing that distances it from Kickstarter and could be a limiting factor in actually funding video series creation. On top of that, there's no return value. Something like Kickstarter gets you something in return for your money. Flattr is more like an altruistic way of donating to things you like to help keep them up and running. I suppose it could even generate some small revenue after the series is done and its simply sitting out there on the web.
“Dailymotion enabling Flattr for its audience and Motionmakers is great validation for our model and strongly engaged user base,” said Linus Olsson, Co-Founder of Flattr. “We hope this will change the way audiences think about online video, encouraging viewers to donate to the creators of content that truly entertains, informs or serves a venerable cause.”
While it might generate income for some video creators, I think it's unlikely, because of its post-release nature, to change the way things are done in terms of how video is created for online and TV. I could see it being used to stimulate some discussion and recoup some costs but it all depends on the generosity of your target audience. I could also see it being used to turn something like a student video project into more content if it garnered enough attention and money. It could also be an alternative to the ad-supported model, or it could be leverage: If you like this content, Flattr it monthly and you won't be bothered with ads anymore while watching it. Then it's like subscribing to the content in order to skip the ads, something someone else proposed recently that I thought a laughable idea. Maybe this is a new approach to that, a more social, grassroots run at it. If people are donating through Flattr and that's getting shared out to other social networks it could make a friend check out that content as well and that could help grow a regular audience.
Plus, Flattr on Dailymotion is compatible with their iOS, Android and Xbox LIVE apps so you can donate from almost any device you watch on.