John Cabrera Sets Me Straight

Yesterday I wrote what was essentially an endorsement for a web distributed (YouTube) show called H+ The Digital Series. I just cannot say enough good things about it.

I did, however, mention what I considered to be a fly in the ointment. It appears that the series is region locked. As several of us on Google+ were discussing how ridiculous this was, John Cabrera jumped in with some behind the scenes insight.

Hey there, I'm the second guy listed in the credits at the end of each episode, so perhaps I can shed some insight. We are YouTube region restricted in 5 territories: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Chile. The rest of the world can watch. The way many studio projects are financed is by selling the distribution rights in foreign markets. Without that money, most of the films we enjoy at the theater wouldn't have been made. Years ago, those foreign markets had to wait years to get the movies we were enjoying in the states, and that was because those markets were starting from scratch getting the films ready for showing there... which often times included finding the distribution itself. Today that rarely happens. Foreign markets are ready to go with the distribution of a film sometimes before Hollywood even, and so on occasion, foreign release dates will be weeks earlier.

Not the case with web series, though. Although it is borrowing this financing method from the movies, the web series is still a very new business, so those markets are going to take a little longer until they're ready for an H+ showing there. But someone owns those rights, and it's certainly in their best interest that those markets see the series. In fact, Chile is the first of those markets that can. The series is being distributed on VTR's website for Chilean audiences who have been blocked on YouTube. The other four will follow suit in some way soon, I promise.

I love the graph!

Remember those credits he mentioned?

Yeah. That John Cabrera.

I don't pretend to understand the business behind content distribution. It's easy enough for me to say "it's gotta be everywhere, all at once and simultaneously!" I still think that in a perfect world it would work that way. But that's not the world we live in. 

In the meantime rest assured that if you cannot see the series today, you will be able to see it eventually.

Our conversation continued and he had some thoughts on the chart I included yesterday.
Here is what he said:
Speaking to your post, YouTube's channel initiative is about building audiences. Although YouTube is known for the viral phenomenon, this next chapter in the story of new media will see them focusing more on programming and audience building. A sharp decline after the first episodes is common with any series (including on TV). What is more important to observe is whether those who stay, continue on deep into the series or whether over time it shows a gradual decline. Your updated graph seems to indicate that those who move on to subsequent episodes, keep moving and don't stop. In fact, the graph even seems to show a small increase in later episodes, which suggests that those episodes are getting rewatched. This is exciting, I think. Not just for our series but for what it says about the future of web programming in general. So I hope it continues.

An interesting question is why the first episodes have such a higher spike. Well one reason could be as you said, taste. The first two episodes are very distopian Sci-fi and there are plenty of people who just don't like that. Another reason could be how these episodes are being watched. YouTube's website makes it very easy to move on from one episode to the next through features like annotations, and playlists. Not so on mobile devices. Not so on social networks through content sharing. In fact, the episodes that are shared the most by far are episodes 1 & 2. Solid marketing and PR strategy, believe it or not, may also be contributing. Hundreds of digital features and blog posts have been written on the series, and many of them embed episode 1 (sometimes 2). So the exposure to those two episodes is far higher than any of the rest... and in many cases the viewer is asked to find the rest of the episodes somewhere else (a tough sell). In some cases, they may not even know there are more episodes.

Now of course, we'd love to see an episode "go viral". It would be like a free marketing boost. But you can't bank on that because because virality can't really be engineered. Our hope is that each week the daily views grow and that little by little we build a dense, passionate, and loyal audience. That's the goal of all of these new premium YouTube channels. I think the public perception of YouTube is that virality is the measure of success. This will change. It has to.
That John (if I may call him John) would take the time to chime in on some random discussion or check a blog that's, quite honestly, not as heavily trafficked as others might be says a lot. If I wasn't a fan before (and I was), then I definitely am now.

So support the show and support John. You can find him on Google+ or Twitter.

I'd also recommend the interview he did on Framerate Episode #86.

And if you would like to join in on this discussion, feel free!