Finding Distribution For Your Web Series- I Hate Marketing part 9

first-time-filmmaker
marketing

(Bri Castellini) #1

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).

Pro tips:

  • 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 contactdekkoo@gmail.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 info@mydubo.com Flexible Not at the moment
REVRY LGBT+ series, shorts, features, and podcasts Email submissions@revry.tv 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 programming@seeka.tv 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.

Let us know if you know of other possible distributors to reach out to about streaming your web series!


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(Amen J.) #2

I would also suggest partnering with other media outlets, where feasible, if there is a link between your series and their audience, so that you can leverage their audience and get more attention for your show. In my case there wasn’t a monetary value, but I partnered with a popular local online magazine (they have 51K followers on Twitter) to include my episodes on their site. I also write a weekly blog post to accompany the episode, so that I expand the conversation beyond the content to connect to the target community (public servants and anyone affiliated with them). Mind you, this is documentary, so a bit different than fiction, but I think it is worthwhile to look into.


(Bri Castellini) #3

Great tip! Thanks so much for sharing!


(Bri Castellini) #4

(Evie Marie Warner) #5

In every Facebook group I’m in for filmmakers guess what one thing they will always tell you? Don’t ever pay to XYZ. Never pay to audition, never pay an agent. And never pay someone to write an article on you (might be personable preference perhaps) And never pay to submit to a distributer. Least they are honest and say on the website that even if they weren’t closed to submissions that most projects will not be accepted. Also, at least it is twenty bucks and not like $100 bucks lol/. My two cents for what it is worth: Save money where you can and use that $20 bucks for something critical during producitons.


(Bri Castellini) #6

I’ll say this about that single distributor who charges for submission- they’re likely doing it for the same reason film festivals charge money (even when it’s only $5/category)- it’s to cut down on spam. When you have a small team and already struggle going through every submission, a small submission fee helps cut through the spam and people who are just mass submitting without any care for if they’re a good fit or not.

I’ll also say that the submission fee doesn’t guarantee your inclusion on the platform- you’re paying for the opportunity to get in front of the distributor in the same way you pay to be considered for a film festival.

I might be getting it all wrong, though. Their CEO @ronVceo might have a better answer for you!


(Evie Marie Warner) #7

I addressed the fact that payment doesn’t garuntee acceptance. To me not the same thing as submitting to a festival. I’m sorry with all due respect, paying for submitting is something I just won’t do and will always tell people not to do. And I’m just not going to debate that and have nothing more to say. on it.


(Ron Valderrama) #8

Thanks for including me in the discussion. Stream Now was getting flooded with submissions and for the most part, with content that we were not accepting. At the time it was literally just me screening content. I created a content team to help be the first filter for me and added to the fee to essentially pay them for their time as well as cut down on the submissions that probably did not have a chance. It worked to a degree but even that was too high a volume so we only open submissions one week a quarter. @Evie_Marie_Warner, Stream Now tries to make every attempt to disclose (a) that most submissions will not be accepted and (b) tell creators exactly what we are looking for and what will get submissions denied. In fact it says 3-4 times throughout the submissions process that the content will likely not be accepted. Hope that helps.