April 20, 2012

An Interesting Experiment

Louis C.K. ran an interesting experiment late last year, one that I hope takes off. You see, what he decided to do was to put together a comedy special featuring himself. Now this is not that odd, he had done it before, what made this time different is that he funded and distributed it all himself. This allowed him to keep costs down as he did not have to pay the normal ‘middle men’. Which meant he was able to sell it for only five bucks.

Not only did he distribute it himself he also made it very easy to download and view, not using any digital rights management. This made it very easy to consume but it also made it easy to torrent and illegally distribute. When you buy it he pleads with you not torrent it hoping that, because it’s cheap, people will just do the right thing and pay for it.

The great thing is that it worked. 12 days into the experiment it had generated one million dollars! Louis gave $280K to charity, $250K went to production costs, $250K went to his staff and he kept the rest.

What this proves is that people are willing to pay for items at a resonable cost rather than just downloading them for free. With the openness of the internet he was able to distribute and promote with minimal cost. This is not the first time this format has been used but its definitely a great example of how it can work. I really hope that this is not a once off and that other people, content producers and consumers alike, take note (and they are). Of course there are a whole bunch of ‘middle men’ hoping the exact opposite.

Image courtesy of Dan Nguyen