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A dangerous, perhaps deadly, email to SAG, AFTRA and Writers Guild of America members

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

November 11, 2007

Comments (17)

Square peg round holeSo far, you've really only heard unbiased reporting or relative support for the writers strike.

What I am privileged to share with you today, however, is a bird of a different feather, and potentially writing that may have severe consequences for the writer, and if not heeded, members of several unions in the United States, and by default, unions sympathetic to the cause in nations abroad.

One man, a member of SAG and AFTRA has taken a stand against the strike, and the following revelation, uncensored, is how he feels.

This is a dangerous email for me to send out.

Why?

Because I happen to know a thing or two about how to make money on the Internet, and I'm concerned that if I speak my mind and voice an unpopular position, I will suffer at the hands of my fellow performers.

Ironically, I'm writing this from my hotel room in Las Vegas, having just spoken at BlogWorld on the need for podcasters to hone their craft and find their natural voices - to be more professional at what they do.

But...

I've made my living as a talk show host and talking head for years, taking positions that, to me, make eminent sense, yet to others seem counterintuitive. And I've also figured out ways to make several millions of dollars on the Internet over the last 15 years or so, affording me a unique perspective on what works, what doesn't and why (thanks, Howard Fine!) - along with what will work in the future.

So, here goes.

I'm saddened and angered that the WGA has gone on strike.

I think the WGA strike, and the approach to these contract negotiations, have been the wrong way to fight the wrong battle.

I think they've squandered any goodwill they had in this negotiation by picking the wrong area over which to have a fight. And the danger goes far deeper than that, as my other unions echo WGA's chants.

Let me explain.

No one, I repeat, no one, is making real money on the Internet with webisodic content right now.

I'm always amazed that anyone is willing to pay me, other actors, writers and other performers to be in webisodics - and I'm on a fair number of well-known and well-respected webisodic series myself. Please watch Goodnight Burbank and Infected on Revision3. Save the ones artificially monetized as a blatant corporate sales tool (I'm happily in Pepsi/Mountain Dew's Cyberpunx, taking SAG-level pay), none is making any money.

None.

Few are spending money - actors are working for free, green screen rooms are begged, borrowed or stolen, cameras and cinematographers are being cajoled into supporting their fellow performer, but very few dollars are being spent. Most of the breakdowns we see for these shows are copy, credit and meals.

The rare payments to performers in this space are welcome and cherished.

You know I'm right. You've seen Actor's Access, Now Casting and LA Casting.

It's all a big experiment, with relatively few real production dollars at risk and none coming back in return. People are dabbling. And spending very little producing to receive absolutely nothing in income.

Zip. Nada.

The income side is just as abysmal.

If you're producing content for the Internet, for YouTube and that ilk, if you're aggressive, you can count on a few dollars in subscription fees (I own ShowTaxi.com, so I see the numbers) and even less in advertising dollars.

We're talking pennies here. And not per play.

So the Internet's Emperor currently has no clothes (or food or shelter, for that matter).

And if we're honest with ourselves, we must ask:

Why fight for money that doesn't exist? And (this is where you'll have to trust that I know what I'm talking about) - WON'T exist for several contract cycles.

My problem is, I've suffered through this righteous indignation on the part of my unions before. And I didn't speak up.

I regret that.

See, a few years ago, AFTRA pulled a similar stunt, negotiating what they thought was a very progressive victory: a triple session fee for a performer if a performer's commercial appeared on the Internet.

Great, you say?

We AFTRA performers all make more money, you say?

No. Not even close.

It resulted in the ad agencies that produced the spots simply refusing to authorize Internet play of those spots, and forced radio stations to drastically change their online automation playback, and to blank out those spots with AFTRA performances in their live streams with public domain classical music.

So AFTRA performers never got paid that hard fought triple session fee, and AFTRA unnecessarily burdened every commercial radio station in America.

The current landscape in Internet production of video, audio, Flash, YouTube videos and the like, is still, and will remain so for the next several years, a speculative one, and one with no foreseeable income.

Why?

Here's why.

While the public loves to consume online content, no one has successfully gotten them to pay for it.

No model has emerged, including subscription and advertising, that generates even the most meager incomes on the most runaway popular videos.

And when does emerge, like iTunes, it gets called not a godsend, and what consumers want and are willing to pay for.

No.

It gets labeled "the ruin of the music industry" by NBC/Universal's leadership in their zeal to maintain outmoded budgets.

Slap.

This is the important fact:

The most outrageously successful videos on the biggest outlet online, YouTube, generate 7-figure plays, and low 2 and 3 figure *monthly* incomes, with short-attention-span shelf life of a few months at best, as users find the next darling to virally spread. And no one is madly clicking on the ads on YouTube pages or anywhere else.

How many times have you left a video playback page on YouTube by clicking on an ad?

I find myself shaking my head in rueful concern over next summer's actor's contract negotiations when I see my SAG leader, Alan Rosenberg, sending me an email stating that "their fight (WGA's) is our fight."

Let me be very clear.

I loved him as the alcoholic lawyer on The Guardian a few years back on CBS, but here, today, Rosenberg is dead wrong, and he is endangering our chances to negotiate proper and real increases in our pay rates and health benefits.

He is doing so in favor of chasing after the Internet market.

There is no Internet market to fight over yet. There is no market in the foreseeable future on the Internet.

Certainly, he and others are distracted by the fact that some websites like YouTube and Facebook have moronic, emotion-filled capital valuations the likes of which haven't been seen since the dot-com bust, but none are making money, and none have the near- or mid-term potential to make the kind of money that merits those valuations. Thankfully they're not individual public companies, and today's Henry Blodgetts can't hype them to death on the markets.

Unfortunately, what those websites do have is the ability to take viewers away from network and cable TV, and what have been very, very lucrative network audience and ad dollars, but darn the luck... they don't replace the lost network ad money with online ad money. And no one running these websites are telling the truth on that - it would harm their negotiations to be bought by the likes of Microsoft, Google or Yahoo.

No, it's just the same old romantic dot-com hype the mainstream press has been known for since they started covering the Internet, cluelessly, in the 90's. And in the end, the Internet's really just another delivery mechanism, another wire, with a more painful-to-watch output point (gather the family around the computer monitor?), not an incredible new market place.

Not yet.

And to make matters even worse, the mainstream media, in their zeal to cover sites like Napster, BitTorrent and Kazaa with such glowing admiration, has trained a whole generation of users to steal, or at the very least, expect everything to be free.

That means that if a market does emerge, we have some really damaging speed bumps in getting the public to pay and advertisers to pay.

That, so far, has been the reality for the folks on the other side of the negotiating table.

Certainly for some producers and writers, they might make money with very little outlay by making a great piece online, creating a demand for that creative work via viral success, then selling the series as DVDs or by creating series that air on traditional channels.

That's self production. That's creating your own content, so go negotiate with yourself.

Most of the people producing webisodes now are doing so, hoping they'll hit a home run... and a network will notice. That's not revolutionary at all. It's what indie artists have been doing for years on the music side of things.

So the WGA, our acting and performance membership, outspoken activist celebrities and our Guild and Federation leadership are, to me, out walking the picket lines, encouraging us to do the same, posturing themselves and our futures over a vast empty wasteland that currently is being experimented with - to no predictable success.

I believe that we are far too early in the infancy of this delivery mechanism to be defiantly sticking our chins out, demanding money that doesn't exist, when DVD sales and on-demand cable plays are clearly
demonstrable and are far more lucrative to producers and distributors, and from which we should be able to extract a more reasonable percentage.

My advice?

Go back to the table, demand to rework the DVD and VOD formulas and keep an eye on the Net over the next few years, looking for real income, but don't throw down the precious gauntlet over it.

I believe that if the WGA gets what they want, they'll find that they fought over hardly anything, and squandered an opportunity to do something useful for their membership.

And before the conspiracy theories start, I am no shill for the producers.

I believe that you train people how to treat you and how well to remunerate you - and that we, as performers, are usually woefully underpaid.

We deserve as much money as we are willing to demand and that the other side is willing to pay.

But in saying all this, I fear that some of you will shun me as that smart ass capitalist Ayn Randian objectivist Ruth's Chris steak-eating barbarian who doesn't grasp the fundamentals of what it's like to be a struggling artist. And there, you would be correct, right up to the "doesn't grasp..." part of that sentence. I struggle every day as an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, a voice talent and more. But those of you know know me, know that I often find a way to success, especially on the Internet.

Not, however, as a webisodic producer. There's no money in it.

Yet.

So there we are. What do I do?

Do I keep silent, knowing that if I speak my mind, from what I consider to be a very informed position of first hand knowledge, I could be ostracized by my fellow performers?

Or do I clearly and succinctly speak up, hoping someone, somewhere in the WGA leadership receives this message as a forward, even a "can you believe how stupid this guy is?" forward, and changes their tactics to deal with the real and pressing issues they have?

I've made up my mind. Here goes:

I support the troops, but I don't support the war.

I support my fellow writers' quest for better pay and better benefits, but I do not support the WGA strike over Internet production.

I think it is a mistake to get wrapped around the axle on demanding monies for Internet usage.

And, I believe that not only should the WGA take this demand off the table, I believe that if SAG and AFTRA pick up this fight next summer, they will be doing all of their members, including me, a grave disservice.

The producers will balk, knowing there really, really, really is no money to be shared, and will not be willing to capitulate. And then we'll strike, and we will all waste more time on the picket lines, labeling our employers incorrectly as being "unfair".

There.

I urge you to pass this on to others in our community.

Thanks.

David Lawrence

~~

After I was given permission to publish the above, David also shared the following with me:

Addendum

As an addendum, I received over 2,000 responses back from people to whom I sent this, many of whom had received it from my list members. Given the average active response rate from other media, I would estimate that a little over 200,000 people have seen it (1 out of 100 taking the time to write seems fair).

A little over 60 percent thanked me for voicing the very things they'd been thinking, and the rest took various shades of name-calling to simple "you have no idea what you're talking about".

One thing that came up over and over was that those that disagreed often assumed that I would take the contract offer as is. I would never sign an agreement that precluded any performer or writer from receiving residuals for any form of distribution including new media. I am not against the union. I wish we had leadership that didn't get lost in the tactics at the expense of clever and beneficial strategy, but that's for another time.

And finally, the money I've made on the Internet does not obviate my statement that the networks aren't making, or can't make, money on the net - in fact, it proves they can. Just not right now.

~~

Do you have anything to add? What do you think?

Best regards,

Stephanie

CORRECTION: Earlier, I had mentioned that David was a member of the WGA. David is not a member of their guild at present.

UPDATE: David will answer your questions here on VOX Daily through comments. If you have a question, would appreciate a clarification or otherwise, please leave a comment and David will answer you here on VOX Daily.

©©©iStockphoto.com/Mark Gabrenya

Related Topics: AFTRA, Apple, Celebrities, Google, how to, industry, Microsoft, radio, TV, union, United States, YouTube


Comments


    I commend David for his courage to speak freely. Thank you David and Voices.com for your bold decision to publish these strong views.

    Part of the "wheels that turn" within the union is the democratic process, where members are part of a sometimes slow, painstaking process to arrive at accord. I hope David's voice is heard and heeded with the negotiating committees of all the unions aforementioned. The process, however may be undermined by union politics, in many cases. In this scenario, I suspect union politicos will win.

    One thing to keep in mind, however, when the WGA struck almost 20 years ago, it was over a little known about and difficult to quantify emerging issue at the time; a residuals formula over sale of vhs tapes. The AMPTP demanded a study. The writers stuck.

    It has been observed and speculated that the months of rhetoric, coupled with sabre-rattling, and chest-thumping has so damaged the working relationship between the WGA and the AMPTP, it's tough to know how long this strike will last.

    What can we learn from history, if anything?

    Thanks for listening.

    All the Best,
    Bobbin Beam

    Posted by:

      David,

      Thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post. For some time now I've been convinced the leadership of the unions simply do not understand the world as it is changing, largely I suppose because they are so isolated from the nitty and the gritty of it all.

      I commend you for your courage and willingness to speak truth regardless of the potential cost.

      Be well,
      Bob

      Posted by:

        Greetings from Canada!

        Yes indeed, thank-you for your thought inspiring comments. As an ACTRA member and executive on ACTRA Ottawa Branch Council I sometimes feel as though I am swimming in the murky waters of confusion when it comes to union issues and negotiations. I am not an elite master of the world wide web and appearances can often convince us of untruths. There seems to be widespread suspicion in this industry.

        I think it would be most beneficial for an objective third party to educate artists about the ins and outs of making money with their profession on the internet.

        I am confident their is a solution that can bring peace to all.

        Katherine

        Posted by:

          Allow me to play sparring partner, if you will.

          "And finally, the money I've made on the Internet does not obviate my statement that the networks aren't making, or can't make, money on the net - in fact, it proves they can. Just not right now."

          Let me get this straight: So, even though content producers will eventually profit from online content, the writers shouldn't try to ensure that they won't be cut out of those future profits? O-kaaaay. History has shown that even when certain forms of media do make money, studios and producers will bend over backwards not to dole out the fair share of that moolah to the creative personnel.

          Ultimately, I found the letter to be just another long-winded piece of union-bashing (which, for what it's worth, lost me completely with the phrase "Ayn Rand objectivist" --- an oxymoron if I've ever heard one).

          Understand, I'm being affected by the strike as well:

          I'm hired for a big videogame project that's likely being held up, because there's currently no writing being done on the film that it's tied to. Still, artists and writers need to do their best to buck "Hollywood accounting" practices.

          Posted by:

            David, I found your piece very interesting.

            Can you clarify why you think "the producers will balk" if they know there is "really, really, really... no money to be shared"? Why not agree to share something that doesn't exist?

            Thank you,
            Jacqueline Samuda

            Posted by:
            • Jacqueline Samuda
            • November 12, 2007 3:09 PM

              Hi David,

              I want to thank you again for allowing us to share your story and I have a question that has been asked of me that needs your clarification:

              Is it just the screenwriters who are on strike or does this affect the people who write commercial copy?

              Looking forward to your answer.

              Thanks,

              Stephanie

              Posted by:

                Dear David,

                I do appreciate hearing all sides of this argument. Thank you for your insight. At first, my natural inclination was to support the unions -- my immediate knee jerk reaction that the unions exist to support us.

                Your experience has helped translate the less obvious implications of this issue. My questions is where does the disconnect in communication lie? Why are the unions unaware that no one is making any money on these Internet "experiments?"

                Let's hope this all ends peacefully and fairly for all.

                Posted by:

                  First a disclaimer - I do not profess to be an expert in this particular matter - not taking sides here.

                  That said - to David's query - unlike writers, producers put up $$$ and/or procure financing.
                  Without financing, no story can be brought to fruition.

                  A CEO's primary obligation is to return profit to shareholders.

                  Quantifiable financial risk is returned with financial reward.

                  Producers take unique financial risk and because this can be quantified, they are remunerated for that quantifiable financial risk.

                  My hope for the writers is that they find a way to quantify their contribution and thus put forward an argument that is less emotional, more tangible, and likelier to help their cause.

                  Posted by:
                  • Anonymous
                  • November 12, 2007 4:45 PM

                    Regarding the anonymous post above: one might argue just as easily --- and correctly, if I may be so bold --- that unlike producers and CEOs, writers populate the story with characters, give those characters personality, move the story forward, create compelling dialogue, etc.

                    Without writers, our story is just as far from being "brought to fruition" as it is without the financier. So, forgive me if I'm unclear as to why the only the former should "quantify their contribution", while the latter gets a pass.

                    Posted by:

                      These comments aren't threaded, so let me address the questions posed here as succinctly as I can - and feel free at any time to take deeper or off-topic stuff off-site via email at davidlawrence@aol.com.

                      For David Houston, who said:

                      "... History has shown that even when certain forms of media do make money, studios and producers will bend over backwards not to dole out the fair share of that moolah to the creative personnel..."

                      This, I believe is at the heart of my problem with the strike. We are righteously indignant about the slights of the past, tramping about with our scowled faces, making sure those nasty producers know we're never going to let that happen again.

                      I don't think we need to be quite so petulant. I'd rather we be effective, elegant and far more clued-in than the other side of the table expects, not going out on strike, a last-ditch tactic, over something we keep misinforming ourselves and the public about - the Internet and it's current state of affairs.

                      And the phrase is "Ayn Randian objectivist." I'm not sure why that lost you, but, OK. It wasn't about bashing unions, either - I am a member of a Guild and a Federation, two organizations that chose not to use the word "union" for a reason. A professional Guild hearkens back to the days of apprentices, journeymen and masters of their craft. I wish we acted more like that, both in our work and in our dealings with our clients.

                      Jacqueline asked:

                      "...Can you clarify why you think "the producers will balk" if they know there is "really, really, really... no money to be shared"? Why not agree to share something that doesn't exist?"

                      Seriously, would you? If you were experimenting with a particular project, and didn't know if you were going to make money or not, or how much money if you did, would you go beyond "copy credit and meals?" And on the flip side, if you had a better grasp on the income stream, could you not then make a better decision about how much you could afford to share?

                      These negotiations are not all about us. They are about the producers as well. The worst negotiators are myopic about who benefits from what, paying attention only to their side of the table. The best ones craft a solution that meets as many needs as both sides have. In this case, we're jumping up and down and wringing our hands and picketing and making demands and shutting down our industry over new media, something that is volatile and fickle and fluid and in constant flux. If I were the producers, I'd be very hesitant to draw any lines until I had more information - and my piece was meant to illustrate how we can do the same, and use it to our advantage.

                      What if the metrics of Internet distribution are such that it turns out in our zeal to ask for this minor percentage, we've asked for too little? We can always renegotiate, right? But... we can make more earlier, as we could have with other distribution methods, but not signing anything that cuts us out of future participation, and making solid arguments at the next table based on verifiable income and costs.

                      We have none of that now. We have one year of iTunes data, and NBC hates them already. Facebook was a failure in 2003 - now, it's the darling. Where will it be next year? Carrying video content from producers? Competing with Heavy.com? Who knows? The producers certainly don't. Nor do we.

                      I think we should be working towards a unified approach to all distribution methods, assigning a "paid viewing," however that occurs, as our basic unit. We treat all media differently now. That approach would make the producer's budgeting lives easier as well. But we don't have that - and producers are rightfully concerned about changes in the distribution space and audience formation and evaporation eating away at their eventual profit.

                      And finally, remember that the entire space is changing - the people that we are currently negotiating with may very well end up completely irrelevant to our future.

                      Imagine the implications of continual drops in network viewing supplanted by increased views of our own self produced and self distributed content. We have the power - we produce the characters and plots and conflict and can certainly produce material and distribute it now without the permission or help of any conglomerate. They are quaking in their boots over that scenario. If they become fossilized because YouTube becomes the new HBO and Google becomes the new Comcast, it will be because you wrested that power away from them, and gathered your own audiences.

                      A bit of a tangent, but it's one reason they are fearful of and why they are nearly immobile when it comes to these negotiations.

                      Stephanie asked about commercial copywriters, and it brings to light something that I'm constantly amazed at - the jobs in manifold categories that WGA writers hold:

                      Network news copy, radio station copy writers like KNX and other examples of which we might not think.

                      I don't know of any WGA commercial copywriters, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. If so, they too should be concerned about the Net, because examples like the Google Ad Creation Marketplace will compete heavily and take away work from Guild writers. I'm fairly sure that no residuals come into play with radio and TV spots for the writers, as they usually toil for the ad agencies, but the Internet is playing very deeply into how spots are conceived, written, produced, distributed, and lately, performed.

                      Not sure if I answered your questions, but there's my effort.

                      Jennifer asks, "...where does the disconnect in communication lie? Why are the unions unaware that no one is making any money on these Internet "experiments?"

                      I believe that it doesn't serve the union leadership's goals to give credence to the notion that there is no money being made. Drawing a careful and balanced picture of what the producers are actually pulling in would completely undermine statements they have made about this issue and would make them appear foolish and... uninformed. They don't want that.

                      And the desire to show those producers we won't be taken advantage of again, ever, is trumping common sense. Why not have the facts at our disposal? The truth is a very powerful tool at the negotiation table, but so is taking your shoe off and pounding that table. For the moment, anyway.

                      I have a 7am call to makeup here in Nashville - I'm going to get some sleep!

                      Thanks for keeping the dialogue calm and respectful. I miss LA already - did anyone see the article in the NYT calling for striking WGA writers in LA to come back to NY and start writing plays again? The author claims there are good bagels to be found in LA.

                      Hrm.

                      Posted by:

                        Here's the article.

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/theater/13ishe.html?th&emc=th

                        David

                        Posted by:

                          David, I think you missed the point. The WGA issue is not about the amateurish You-Tube type content, but the networks and other outlets allowing selling viewings of prime time material and movies written by WGA members on the internet. The networks and other media outlets are getting paid for allow internet viewing of the content. Why shouldn't the writers and performers be paid too?

                          It is the same in our voice over industry where there seems to be a lowering of standards and pay expectations. This is my profession I don't do it for free or on the cheap.

                          Gregory Best

                          Posted by:

                            For once I'm glad someone is thinking about the poor media companies, producers and shareholders who surely will suffer should they be required to share revenues with talent. I am tired of the people who actually create the content taking money away from them and food off their table.

                            Posted by:
                            • Don in L.A.
                            • November 13, 2007 4:34 PM

                              I haven't missed the point, Gregory - it's about sharing revenue on programming written by us. I really do understand that, and support our gaining greater revenue with each new way to reach the audience.

                              But for you and Don in LA, can you allow for the possibility that it is no longer an automatic thing that any network is consistently profitable? Especially in new modes of doing business? Surely, you'd want to know just how successful they were in making a profit, no? There's no need, Don, to be sarcastic. I think it's funny, but that's not my position and your tossed off missive misrepresents my points. But I think you actually know that - you're just not willing to consider alternatives to painting media companies as anything but unfair. It's already been discussed.

                              David

                              Posted by:

                                Dear David,

                                Thanks for your interesting (and long) read!

                                So... you can't make money, in our profession, on the net... yet! Very little money can be made by filmmakers, writers, actors at present, so there is no point in striking because, as there's no money in it, they're wasting their time striking, therefore, halting the industry for nothing! Is that what you're saying?

                                You're backing the principle, but the action is wrong... what should they do then?

                                I am also an Actor who is not making any money in England because there isn't much of a market over here for black actors, which is why the black talent are leaving!!

                                The industry over here also doesn't want to pay anyone for their talent and energy... and why bother when they can get it for nothing from the general public!!

                                I feel we should have an all out strike for SOME REASON over here, but WHO WOULD CARE when they could draft in the public for free, also for a laugh and a joke. TV Drama hardly exists, producers believe that Black Actors lower TV Ratings and therefore won't take the risk on employing us, believe me, I could go on and ON!!

                                If I could strike, hold a placard and get some attention to the Actors Employment Drought that's going on over here, I would!! If I could grind the industry to a halt over here, to change things, I WOULD!! I say, GOOD FOR THEM for standing up for their rights and acting on it! Even if there's no money being made on the net... yet, there is a possibility that there COULD BE?? Its the "COULD BE's" and "POSSIBLY'S", "IF" and "BUT'S" that is included in their strike action and which makes the action "POSSIBLY" worth it.

                                Posted by:

                                  There is no money on the internet? Seriously? You obviously don't know what you're talking about. People aren't just throwing money down the tubes to have websites. If websites didn't make money, then CNN, MSNBC, etc. wouldn't have them. Its pretty clear, however, that websites DO make money. How is this possible? Simple. Ads. Ads make money. Your argument "I never click on an ad I see on YouTube" is silly; the reason is that you are not the average consumer. Nor am I. Most people tune out most ads. How many times have you seen something on TV and been like "Man, I got to get me one of these?" Not often, I'd wager. Yet companies pay thousands, sometimes millions of dollars on TV advertising. Obviously they make money this way. Its the same with the internet. You can make money on ads on the internet; it isn't even dependent on clicking. Part of it is just peripheral awareness. And part of it is convenience. I have clicked on Google ads before because the results were relevant; I was looking for an online store selling something, and conveniently I found one via Google ads. Google made money by getting the ad space paid for, and the company made money by me clicking on their ad. Penny Arcade, one of the most popular webcomics, makes absolute scads of money, at least partially due to the (very good and very well targeted) ads on their website; I'd say they have the highest click rate from me, and I've actually bought a few things I've seen advertised there. But I don't think I've bought anything I've seen advertised on TV in years as a result of a TV advertisement.

                                  Obviously different markets have different needs and make different amounts of money, but people can and DO make very large amounts of money on the internet. Just because you don't make money on the internet doesn't mean there isn't money to be made; it means that you simply aren't competent enough to do so. And as for those "webisodes"? Those aren't at all the same thing as being able to watch Life on your website. The networks show these shows not only as a promotion to their network (though it is partially that) but also as a means of independently making money; what are the odds I'll buy a season of a show I have never seen? Very low. What are the odds I'll watch a show I've never seen before? Low again. But what if I can sample the show online? My odds of doing either activity go way, way up. I actually watch Life periodically now, rather than not at all, and the network makes money from the four or five ads I have to watch in the online version of the show. That's hardly tragic from either of our standpoints.

                                  It is clear that there is indeed money to be made on the internet, and many companies do make money via the internet. You just aren't looking in the right places.

                                  Posted by:
                                  • TD
                                  • November 17, 2007 4:30 PM

                                    For TD: Websites make money. No doubt about it.

                                    However, and this is an important point, not to be missed: "websites" are not the equivalent of "WGA written and/or SAG acted scripted episodes". More simply, MySpace makes money for Fox/NewsCorp, free episodes of House, buoyed by bonused online spots do not.

                                    Not yet.

                                    I do indeed know how to make money on the Internet, and where to look for others making money. I am watching intently for signs of serious money being made by the networks. Mostly, I see money pits, efforts to duplicate YouTube that cost way too much and won't show a profit for years.

                                    Thanks for your comments.

                                    Posted by:

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