Anyone trying to get a bigger picture of the ever-growing monetized video landscape could easily wind up with eye-strain. The field has ballooned from just a couple of players in early 2011 to a market that has new competitors entering the arena on almost a monthly basis. Here is a breakdown on some of the more notable entities in the race to monetize media.
Independent Publishing & Monetization Tools for Selling Video
Here's a list (in alphabetical order) of a few platforms and service providers that will enable you to sell your video content online. Some offer subscription paywalls, VOD, paid downloads, etc...
Originally a social video site, closely linked with Facebook, Chill pivoted in June of 2012 to focus more on internet video discovery. In December of last year the company turned once again to launch Chill Direct, a direct to audience service, focusing on films and comedians. The projects that Chill offers as content live as an extension of the chill.com site and seem to focus more on their corporate branding than on the branding of their customers. Chill also seems to be very big on offering viewer “extras” on their pages for added prices such as t-shirts and signed posters which might be nice bonus for those with physical merch to hawk.
Launched in February of 2012, Gumroad is the lightweight monetized option and significantly differs from the competition on several levels. The company raked in over $8 million in early round fundraising and has made significant inroads into the independent music scene.
In a nutshell, Gumroad allows anyone to sell anything (both digital and physical products) on any social media site with a link provided by the company. That link will take the consumer to a pay window where they enter in an email address and credit card number and receive a message giving them instructions on how to get the goods. Gumroad feels that artists should be able to connect with their fanbase via social media with or without the use of a promotional website.
While Gumroad is easy to slap up in minutes, what is a benefit to some may be a deterrent to others. The absence of a promotional page or video player of any kind also may prove a gap impossible to bridge by some media producers.
Recently, Gumroad announced an On-Demand Video Streaming service. The videos can play on your own website, or with your own unique Gumroad URL. Their take will be 5 percent + 25 cents.
Announced in December of 2011, Pivotshare received $1.6 million in funding in June of the following year. The first true player in the monetized video game, Pivotshare wants to help anyone “easily make money from your digital media.” Striving to be the most flexible offering in the monetized media world, Pivotshare offers elements found in almost all of these others players, in a simple self-service platform. Pivotshare creates individual media channels that allow anyone to generate revenue using Pay-Per-View, Subscription, Purchase/Downloads, or Tip Jar models, in any combination. The company has apps for both smartphones and tablets in the iTunes and Google Play and their new Pivotshare customization service will also offer custom URLs and brand specific apps to certain channels.
Pivotshare offers several ways to implement their solution ranging from Library channels for those with a larger vault of content to splashy Showcase channels for producers offering fewer pieces of media such as independent filmmakers and comedians. Pivotshare also recently released their embeddable player that can be placed on any existing site and which allows customers to pay without every leaving the viewing experience. Once a customer has created an account with Pivotshare, it only takes an email and password to achieve payment.
Comedians, indie filmmakers, business experts, and personal trainers are all using the platform, but because each is handled by the company as an individual entity, none of the media conflicts or competes.
Redux is one of the older players in the game, having first hit the scene in 2007 as a social media site and has raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million in that time.
Redux has focused on merging their content into a conventional home viewing experience with apps for both Samsung TVs as well as Google TV. Obviously realizing that online and broadcast content are well on their way to becoming one and the same, Redux announced in August of 2012 that their app will now come preloaded onto several Smart TV products. While Smart TV apps are available, there is currently none offered for either mobile or tablet devices.
In 2012 Redux launched Redux for Artists which allows content producers to offer their media on a separate site with some basic paywall abilities. In April of that year, the company premiered the service by offering the 2010 award-winning Czech animation feature, Kooky, to its viewers, with a payment experience that was far from conventional. The film was sold on a completely different site as part of a package from Humble Bundle, a company that offers groups of software and media at a “pay what you can” price. The users were then given a keycode that they could use to go back to watch Kooky. This sort of a payment model may be a bit too nebulous for many producers looking for more standard monetization methods.
Buying the Ron White stand-up special, A Little Unprofessional, shows the more conventional side of the Redux payment experience, which is much more straightforward and powered by PayPal. In addition the company is also promoting the horror feature, Smiley, as well as the video game documentary, Minecraft: The Story of Mojang.
Similar to Gumroad with a few significant differences is payment startup Tinypass. Tinypass announced their existence in 2011 and has thus far raised $1.25 million. Like Gumroad, Tinypass provides producers with no promotional page. And while they do not host any of the media, what they lack in digital real estate they make up for in customization. Tinypass allows content creators to sell their products in almost any variation imaginable (whether it is per track, as a download, or as an ongoing monthly subscription) and on almost any location on the web.
When a customer clicks on a Tinypass ticket in order to purchase a piece of media, a pay window pops up offering every possible payment option under the sun. If you already have a Tinypass account, the payment process simply requires an email address and a password. For those users who already have a promotional site with a player, Tinypass could be a no-frills solution.
VHX.TV started in early 2011 as a hip new way for people to uncover the coolest new viral videos on the web, while suggesting them to their online buddies. In June of 2012 the VHX team raised $1.25 million in order to take the company in a completely different direction and tackle the monetized media world. Their first projects were to offer Aziz Ansari’s special, Dangerously Delicious, as a DRM-free download for $5 as well as the Sundance darling documentary Indie Game: The Movie. Both projects have gone on to other conventional platforms such as iTunes and Netflix, but first hit the scene with VHX.
VHX is not a self-service platform. Their home site gives some fairly basic information about their services and has a “contact us” button to begin the registration process. While no apps for mobile or tablet are currently offered by the company, they do have an embeddable player that allows content providers to offer their products on their own websites. This player uses PayPal and Amazon as their payment gateway, so the customers must leave the viewing experience in order to complete the transaction.
Similar to YouTube is Vimeo, which is also a heavy-hitter in the video sharing world with over 65 million unique visitors a month and 8 million registered users. Known as the more professional YouTube, Vimeo has a cleaner look and some slightly more in-depth analytic and learning tools such as Vimeo Video School which teaches users how to up the quality of their work.
The system also offers paid upgrades to the basic platform with services called Vimeo Plus and Vimeo Pro. These products allow users to take advantage of such top-tier options as HD embedding and priority uploading. Also throwing their hat into the paid content arena, in September of 2012 Vimeo announced that members of these programs can also now take advantage of the Vimeo Tip Jar. Similar to revenue models pioneered by sites like Noisetrade, Vimeo will now allow viewers to show their appreciation with their wallets by contributing anywhere from $.99 to $500 to a video.
The company also has released Vimeo On Demand, giving their users the ability to offer their projects as pay-per-view experiences. The Vimeo On Demand projects can be viewed across all major devices. Again, only time will tell if offering a monetizing element into a community largely acclimated to free content will be successful. In order to gain access to these tools users must first purchase a Vimeo Pro membership for $199.
Vimeo Creator Services has all the info on the various monetization methods.
Started by three ex-PayPal employees in the beginning of 2005 and purchased by Google the following year for $1.65 billion, YouTube is arguably the mother of all video hosting sites, boasting over 800 million unique users a month with over 4 billion videos streamed every day. Everyone on the internet is familiar with YouTube’s platform, and their embeddable player is used by millions around the world. The system has become synonymous with short fun videos with most of their users hoping to generate income through ad revenues.
Hoping to spruce up their image in 2010, YouTube launched a movie rental service that now offers over 6,000 films for rental and download. They use a Google Wallet paywall that opens another window to process payment before viewing or download can take place. It remains to be seen whether offering paid content to a community largely accustomed to free media will prove successful.
Also hoping to tackle the cable industry, Google announced in October of 2011 that they would be investing $100 million dollars into YouTube Original Channels for higher-end independent content producers for media exclusively offered on the platform. Everything from Rainn Wilson’s offbeat SoulPancake to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Channel, YouTube hopes to lure away conventional cable users, and is gambling with big money to try to pull it off.
In May 2013, the company announced paid subscriptions for certain channels, and is rolling out the service for more creators over the summer.
While the myriad of service providers might seem a bit overwhelming at first, the great news is that media producers now have a huge range of different services to choose from for their online distribution. Take a look at each, weigh the pros and cons and then decide which is the best fit for you and your growing media empire.