Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The future of TV

Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesImage via Wikipedia

TSCC is cancelled. I'm pretty angry.

The best quote I've read about it:
If you've got a dedicated fan base from 4 movies spread over 20 years and two seasons of your show and you can't make that profitable, your business model is broken.

This got me thinking. How much does it cost to produce an episode of a show? Google suggests $1-1.5 million for an average show.

That's a lot of chump change, and it's only gone up since the 1950s. Why?

Here's what I'd love to see, and I would suggest is plausible.

1) A subscription only sub-plots wiki or similar.
It worked for halo, it works for Lost. I would argue that any well written show where mystery and plot twists are a central driving force could build a dedicated fan base through other mediums, like the internet.

I would suggest that a $5 / month participation fee for these hardcode fans would be something people would be more than willing to pay.

If you've only got low ratings of 3 million or so viewers, converting 5000 of those into paying, recurring customers for a year is plausible.

You'd need maybe 2-3 writers and could generate $300000 revenue a year alone.

Importantly, though, you must set an agenda / timeline / end date.

2) Use those hardcore fans, who are on the inside, who have secrets; to sell your DVDs and be your advocates.

A sales force of 5000 people a year telling their friends how good your show is, mixed with easy tools to purchase DVDs (or send them as gifts), etc.

That's quite a good way to make a pile of money, I'd suggest.

3) Provide easy ways to buy your episodes, in high quality formats, by credit card.

4) Provide lower quality torrents publically. Put in your links to DVD sales, forums, wikis, etc in the torrent.

5) Use other experts in your TV production force in novel ways. We're already milking the writers to help create interactive fiction for paying customers. You already have a marketing force of a mix of outsiders and internal people. Who else do you have, and what can they do to generate interest, interaction and revenue?

Why not get the design departments in on the act?

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