I Hate Marketing is a weekly Stareable Film School column where we talk about how to make marketing easier, even for those of us who hate it.
“Distribution” sounds like a scary, unattainable concept, especially in context of indie web series made for budgets under five grand. But all distribution really means is “the action or process of supplying goods to stores and other businesses that sell to consumers.” For our purposes, “goods” means your web series and “stores and other businesses” means “places your web series might be discovered online.”
Let’s break down your options, because there are more than you might think.
Free and open distribution options
While this may make measuring your analytics a bit more difficult, uploading your web series to as many free platforms as possible will exponentially increase your likelihood of getting seen by audiences (and maybe even buyers!). So in addition to YouTube and Vimeo, you should also upload your series in its entirety to Facebook (whose new focus is its video streaming).
- Check out this article by Stareable community member and filmmaker Jason Ryan about how to use Vimeo categories to your advantage.
- Speaking of Vimeo, one excellent reason to add them to your upload list is their Vimeo Staff Picks, where Vimeo staff members personally choose videos to feature in a special category. You can’t submit to become a staff pick- but you can only be chosen if you’ve uploaded your series or short to their website.
- YouTube end screens can be used to link the previous and next episodes of your series (and they’re clickable from mobile!) but they’re a little finicky. I suggest you upload some test end sequences so you can make sure your “previous” and “next” text is in the right place. End screens can take place over the last 5-20 seconds of your video, at least 20 seconds into the video, and the video must be at least 25 seconds long to be eligible for an end screen in the first place.
- Because Facebook and Vimeo don’t have an end screen function, make sure you have a unique credit sequence or end screen card for when you upload to them- it’ll look strange to have empty spots beneath “previous” and “next” text.
- Focus on your favorite free distribution platform for your promotion, so people don’t get confused by all the links to the same episodes, but make sure you have links available to all of the platforms your series is available on somewhere so that those discovering you for the first time have options. The best place to put these links is a website. “Watch now on Facebook (link), YouTube (link), and Vimeo (link)!”
Other online distribution options
Disclaimer: Stareable does not officially endorse any of the distribution options for your web series that I’m about to list.
Disclaimer the second: my web series “Brains” is currently distributed by both Seeka and Brooklyn On Demand, and my short film “Ace and Anxious” is currently distributed by REVRY. Two web series I helped with, “History” and “Stray,” are distributed with Dekkoo.
Disclaimer the third: because it’s the internet, I’m probably missing a few distributors you have the option of submitting to. This is either because I have no knowledge of how to submit to said distributors or because I simply haven’t heard of them. Let me know in the comments if you know of others and I’ll add them to the list!
That out of the way, people are starting to figure out that this whole digital series trend is here to stay. In light of that, many online distributors have popped up to get ahead of the curve. Many of the following distributors will help you promote your series if they choose to distribute it because your success is now a part of theirs. Getting picked up by a streaming site also gives you a reason to write a new press release and renew excitement in a project that may have stopped uploading episodes a year ago.
“Exclusive” refers to whether or not your series can still be distributed on other platforms, and “pay wall” refers to whether viewers have to pay to view content with the distributor. The following are listed in alphabetical order.
|Site||Looks for||Submission Details||Exclusive?||Pay Wall?|
|Brooklyn On Demand||Indie content made in Brooklyn, NY, or made with Brooklyn, NY as the subject||Fill out this form||No||No|
|Dekkoo||Gay-men-centric series, shorts, and features||Email email@example.com||Only from other LGBT+ streaming services. Vimeo/ YouTube/ etc ok||Yes|
|IndieFlix||Indie series, shorts, and features||Make a free account and submit at this link||No||Yes|
|myDUBO||“short form urban content”||Email firstname.lastname@example.org||Flexible||Not at the moment|
|REVRY||LGBT+ series, shorts, features, and podcasts||Email email@example.com||Only from other LGBT+ streaming services. Vimeo/ YouTube/ etc ok||Yes|
|Seed & Spark||Indie content||Fill out this form||Yes||Yes|
|SeekaTV||Indie series||Email firstname.lastname@example.org||No||No|
|Stream Now TV||Indie content||Go to this page to view guidelines/submit. Submission cost: $20||Flexible||For Stream Now Pro, yes. For Stream Now, no.|