Social Cinema: Use of Social Media to Market TV and Film, From Indie to Blockbuster

by Bradley Jobling on May 1, 2010

The second event I was able to attend as part of the Social Cinema Week 2010 focused on how to use social media to market a film or video. The panel included:

Eric Berger, EVP, Sony Crackle
Itzic Cohen, CEO, ClipSync
Tom Carpenter, Epix, VP Operations, Digital Chief of Staff
Lin Dai, VP, Programming and Production, Alloy Digital

I used to work for Tom Carpenter at CCG.XM.

ClipSync

ClipSync is an overlay for a broadband video to create a shared viewing experience on the Internet. Within the online viewing room, the audience can chat, throw objects, and otherwise interact with a program while it is showing on the computer screen. Some of these interactions will show up on Facebook and Twitter. ClipSync held an Internet viewing of a movie among military personnel in the Middle East and their families back in the US. The two groups, half a world a part, could watch a movie together and then share the experience. ClipSync is used by Epix and IFC.

ClipSync has an ad network to sell ads on their interface and on the Playstation.

Alloy Digital

Alloy is a producer of programming geared towards teen girls. Their library includes Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries. As part of Alloy’s social media plan, the Gossip Girl character has a Twitter account. The Twitter messages are an extension of the character. At times the fictional character will interact with real people on Twitter such as Ashley Tisdale. The employees of Crackle who Tweet under there own names and are allowed to express their own personalities.

Epix HD

Epix offers over 15,000 HD titles via cable and broadband. They currently have cable distribution deals with FIOS, Dish and NNTC. When started a view years ago, Epix was able to negotiate the broadcast and IP rights to the titles they show.

In addition to movies, Epix streams and broadcasts events such as Madonna in Argentina and an upcoming Black Eyed Peas concert.

Crackle

Crackle is a digital channel started by Sony with original programming such as:

Angel of Death,

From Crackle: 1: Edge

Urban Wolf,

From Crackle: Urban Wolf: Trailer

Woke up Dead,

From Crackle: 1: Up and At ‘Em

and The Bannen Way.

Points of Interest

  • The panel members felt that user-generated content has had it’s day. It’s difficult to monetize user-generated content and the trend is leaning towards more professional looking programming. The professional programming will be paid for by viewers or can get enough views to be paid for by advertising. If an online video would be watched only if it is free, then this same program could probably not collect enough advertising revenues to pay for its production costs.
  • The current value of an online video viewer is approximately $2.50. This is not enough for the broadband only programming to make a profit.
  • The high end production budget for an Alloy or Sony Cracker Web video is now reaching $1 million dollars for 90 minutes. The programming is ten released, although not in this particular order, online as 5 or 6 minute clips, on television, and to DVD. This is compared to a $3 million budget for an episode of Gossip Girl.
  • Today, entertainment brands like any others, have to be introduced by using social media. Digital entertainment and social go together. The panel felt that social media and interactivity is way to reduce churn.
  • Media companies cannot just just throw text on the screen to make something interactive. Using interactivity in programming involves the core and essence of the content. Every program should use the tools of interactivity differently.
  • The moderator of the discussion, who is from a legal firm that represents music and film artists, said that part of legal due diligence now is to ask the artists about their social media strategy. New artists and start ups are required to have a social media presence to succeed. Many A&R people from the music labels use social media to find up-and-coming bands. This involves not only videos but also following online music chat and its buzz.
  • The social media goals of an entertainment organizations should be to monetize passion that the public has for their characters and franchises. This adoring public was referred to as “passionistas”. Another goal of the media companies should be to convince the people who are blogging to their target audience, to promote their programs.
  • This year their will be a 50% growth in online video viewing.
  • Sony feels that 5 million online views of program within the first 6 weeks of posting is a good audience.
  • Some programming warrants interactivity, yet at this point, the production companies do not feel comfortable making a live program interactive. This loss of control does not sell to advertisers who demand a guaranteed number of viewers which in their minds requires careful production. Interactive programming is now referred to as User-Defined Content or UDC
  • Blip.tv is considered a mid-range online video site.

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