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Thursday, July 17, 2008

SnagFilms: Open for Business

As far as I can tell, the vast reporting team here at CinemaTech Global HQ broke the news about Ted Leonsis' SnagFilms a month ago, during Silverdocs.

Everything about that initial post was on-the-money (except I reported that the referral fee that Snag takes from a DVD sale would be eight percent; it's 8.5 percent).

Snag was officially unveiled today, with a bit of news that was new to me: they've also acquired the indie film hub IndieWIRE.

My take on Snag: this will be an important new way for connecting documentaries with audiences online, and generating revenue -- but many better-known films may be kept off the site because they've promised their digital/VOD rights to someone else.

In other reporting:

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal has a comprehensive review of SnagFilms.

USA Today has a story about Snag that includes some interesting commentary from founder Ted Leonsis.

    "Because everything is digital now, costs are down, quality is up, and we have this whole new generation of non-fiction filmmakers," says Leonsis, majority owner of two Washington, D.C.-area sports teams and chairman of SnagFilms. "There's more product but less distribution. I wanted to solve that problem."

    ..."The Oscar-winning documentary of 2007 did $250,000 at the box office, which means that only 25,000 people saw it," Leonsis says. "Most videos on YouTube see at least 100,000 views, which would be like $1 million at the box office."

(Actually, Ted, I bet the average video on YouTube has fewer than 1000 views.... maybe even fewer than 100?)

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