Film Festival Today

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VOD Is A Growing Profit Stream For Documentaries

Written by: FFT Webmaster | November 23rd, 2011

Even though documentaries have been making strong waves at the theatrical box office for many years now, there is still a critical need for more distribution platforms for non-fiction work, since television broadcasting has substantially cut back on its commissions of true documentaries (as opposed to reportage or reality television). One of the current great white hopes is video-on-demand, via either cable/satellite or online downloads. However, big money for documentary VOD is still elusive. VOD deals in a territory can include multiple platforms, which is important since each individual deal does not offer substantial guarantees up front and often work with a commission percentage model of actual purchases. Sales agents at this year’s IDFA are eyeing this new revenue stream with some caution but are seeing more monies coming through this new pipeline. Sometimes these sales agents work with aggregators, who are likely to charge 15-30% off the top. On most platforms, there will a 30/70 split, with the sales agent taking 70% of the revenue. Filmmakers then receive a share (generally 50-70%) of that net amount. Peter Jager of Autlook Filmsales was quoted in the IDFA Daily as saying that “within two or three years, VOD will generate very solid revenues for sales agents and filmmakers. Already we are see revenues on cable VOD. That’s why we invest a lot of time in them and we try out all of the VOD platforms.”


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