Independent film distribution is venturing into uncharted territory these days with the growing popularity in streaming video and video streaming platforms. In a highly saturated market that includes blockbuster movies, it is essential that any filmmaker interested in finding an audience for their film look into video-on-demand (VOD) distribution platforms.
The market is growing every year with revenue for independent film due to most of the country having access to fast internet availability and the popularity of connected devices to television.
What Is VOD (Video On Demand)?
Video on Demand or VOD is a form of video content that is delivered to consumers over the internet.
Some well-known examples are streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. VOD can stream through TVs, computers, phones, tablets and other devices.
VOD refers to any type of film or television content that you can watch at your own pace without having to tune into a specific time slot.
(Prepare for an acronym heavy next couple of paragraphs.)
There are a few categories of retailers: AVOD, SVOD, and TVOD.
AVOD stands for Ad-Supported Video On Demand, which requires viewers to watch ads before, during, or after the film.
SVOD refers to Subscription VOD. Consumers pay a monthly fee for access to a library of content.
TVOD is short for Transactional VOD. Consumers pay for individual films on these platforms.
Within TVOD, there are two options, Electronic Sell Through (EST), which is the digital sale of the film for unlimited viewing in exchange for a fee, and Download to Rent (DTR).
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Video offers movies and TV shows for sale or download underneath large online retailer Amazon (TVOD).
Amazon also has an SVOD service called Amazon Prime that streams video much like Netflix and Hulu.
At the end of 2015, it was estimated that Amazon Prime had 54 million U.S. members according to a press release from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners Inc.
Amazon works best on connected TV devices and web browsers. TV shows and movies are available at specific prices for rental and purchase. Amazon gives filmmakers 50% of the TVOD profits and keeps 50%.
Netflix completely changed the DVD rental and streaming space over a decade ago in when it debuted on the market.
It is one of the most well-known streaming services (SVOD), with millions of subscribers and a large content library. It is accessible on computer, mobile, and all connected TV devices such as Roku, Apple, etc.
Its streaming services began in 2007 and currently serve 190 countries across the world. At the beginning of 2016, The Verge reported that Netflix has over 75 million users.
Netflix is one of the best VOD service platforms to stream your movie because of its wide audience. However, it can be difficult to have your film accepted by Netflix as the retailer has to decide whether or not to stream it on their platform.
Your film must go through a pitching process before it debuts on Netflix. Whether or not your film is accepted is based on a lot of factors, including a strong known cast, film festival awards, and a large social media following.
Netflix pays a flat rate that varies per title. For example, a solid title can earn a filmmaker around the low five figures to high six figures license fee for 2 years paid quarterly.
Hulu is another curated VOD platform that offers a catalog of TV shows and movies. It is accessible by most computer, mobile and connected TV devices.
The standard service is ad-supported (AVOD) and has limited content. Hulu Plus is a paid subscription service with an option for limited commercials and no commercials. This service also has more content than the standard platform.
In April 2015, Hulu had 9 million subscribers, according to The Wrap. Hulu is primarily known for current and classic TV shows.
Since Hulu is a curated platform, your film must also go through a pitching process before it is accepted. Hulu also offers social sharing options that allow for your film to easily be shared across networks.
Hulu’s profits were split per view on the AVOD platform, and the filmmaker receives 50% of what they collect. On Hulu Plus, the filmmaker receives a flat fee, much like with Netflix.
As of the summer of 2016, Hulu actually began to change its business model to be more directly in competition with Netflix. All of their pre-existing free AVOD has been moved over to Yahoo Movies, which means that the flagship Hulu platform no longer offers any free content without becoming a paid subscriber.
From a content provider standpoint, what is most exciting is that Hulu is due to begin offering license deals for the films they do choose to pick up, meaning that filmmakers will now know a minimum amount of revenue coming in from one of the biggest platforms in the game.
iTunes is the most widely known TVOD marketplace for digital downloads, and it is the largest seller of movies worldwide with 85,000 titles. It has a reported 800 million users.
Viewers can buy or rent movies from the iTunes store to use on any Apple Device, Mac or PC. iTunes will also take English language titles to 57 countries without the need for translation.
When your film is on iTunes, it is sold alongside blockbuster films, and your profit is only a click away due to the easy nature of buying through an iTunes account.
iTunes profit is split 70% to filmmakers, content owners and creators and 30% to Apple. For example, if your film earns sells for $9.99 on iTunes, you will receive $7 from that sale. Filmmakers also earn 70% of all VOD rental sales.
Google Play is Google’s official store portal for TVOD digital content such as films.
The Google Play movie store sells movies for download or rental on computers, Android devices, and iOS devices.
In September 2015, Google Play reported 1 billion active monthly users, according to Mashable. Google Play has a similar share model to iTunes where filmmakers make 70% of their revenue and Google keeps 30%.
These are the five best VOD digital distribution platforms to stream or sell your independent film. The easiest way to distribute video on these platforms is to go through a movie aggregator such as Quiver Digital.
Quiver can help any independent film find an audience online through the contracts it has in place with leading retailers. After one flat rate price, you can achieve VOD distribution worldwide and keep 100% of the revenue from your film with Quiver Digital.
This article was written by Golda Criddle from Quiver Digital.
When you choose to distribute your independent film through Quiver Digital, it has a 99% chance of being accepted by iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. Curated retailers like Netflix approve of around 40% of films submitted through Quiver Digital’s film aggregator.
If you have further questions about VOD distribution, please email email@example.com. We look forward to helping your film find its audience worldwide with Video-On-Demand!
Cool. Thanks for taking the time to put this all together. It’s much appreciated.
Thanks – very good work!
Really great breakdown of all the different VOD services. THanks!
Helpful information. Stunned by the level of detail.
It was a very insightful article and clearly explains the various business models. Thank you
Hi Matt, when you say “For example, a solid title can earn a filmmaker around the low five figures to high six figures license fee for 2 years paid quarterly,” can you specify what a “solid title” is? Is it based on genre, stars, festival laurels, etc.?
Hi Matt, question, is there a VOD outlet for independent films, what i mean is besides these brands, are there ones that i can upload my documentary for people to pay to watch it?
Matt, great article. You haven’t mentioned the option use SaaS VOD services such as ott.vimeo.com or http://www.uscreen.tv, are those not viable options for film makers?
VERY HELPFUL ! Thank YOU !
Very detailed analysis on the video on demand platforms. Awesome list! Thanks for sharing with us.
Great Content for this article. Keep it rolling. Very informative.
Matt, thanks so much! I’ve been in the biz for 40 years but new to VOD world. This is just what we needed.
Love this well detailed article. How can a rising from producer from Africa benefit from VOD distribution
thankyou for the writting, its giving me good information for a start and looking forward for more update of the new VOD company now a day .
Hi Matt, It’s a great article and also a very detailed analysis of VOD platform providers. But, I would like to add some more brands here.
Contus Vplay, https://www.vplayed.com/video-on-demand-solution.php, Brightcove these are also available for filmmakers.
Hi Matt, Thanks for a very detailed analysis of best VOD platform providers.
I’m so excited to see which VOD platforms will be the best in 2023!
[…] 5 Best VOD (Video On Demand) Platforms and How to Distribute […]