Getting from dimes to dollars

There's no money online, you say? Tell that to Canuck Corey Vidal and his $150,000 worth of YouTube hits

Indie producers need to move beyond TV licence fees and embrace the ad-driven online and mobile space with new content and applications, producer rep Norm Bolen said Friday.

‘In traditional media, there’s a tremendous denial about what’s going on around us. Broadcasters and the production community are not evolving quickly enough,’ the CFTPA president and CEO told an iLunch 8.05 panel on multiplatform business strategies in Toronto.

‘A lot of people are going to make a lot of money with new applications in the online world,’ he added.

While agreeing on the need to adapt or die, panelists were divided on whether revenue for next-generation Canadian producers will come from creating cheap, fast and disposable content for YouTube and other ad-driven sites, or by making high-quality content for multiplatform distribution channels.

Bolen pointed to Corey Vidal, a Canadian video producer whose bite-size YouTube videos, including a popular Star Wars A Cappella Tribute, have so far generated 30 million page views and around $150,000 in annual revenue.

Bolen conceded that producers trade dimes for dollars when they create content based on what people are searching for on the web, but added production costs are far lower.

‘This is the new business model. If you reach a certain threshold, YouTube starts sending you cheques,’ agreed cross-media consultant Gavin McGarry of Jumpwire Media.

But Jarrett Sherman, creative director of Smokebomb Entertainment, Shaftesbury Films’ digital media division, said his Toronto shop valued quality over quantity as it produced online extensions for series like The Listener and Murdoch Mysteries.

‘We’re focused on a bigger play. It’s semi-traditional. It’s multiplatform and interactive,’ Sherman told the Toronto panel.

Jeff Young, head of finance and business development at Starz Animation Toronto, said his studio needed to drive its expensively produced CGI content across more revenue-generating platforms than YouTube, including VOD and Netflix, to make money.

‘If you can make it easy to get to the content, people will pay for the content,’ Young said.