Saturday, February 23, 2008

Meaningless Numbers: 2% of Nothing, 92.5% of 35%, and the SAG 0.75%, aka 900

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

- attributed by Mark twain to British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli

(Yeah, he said it before The West Wing used it as an episode title)
The WGA-AMPTP deal resulted in this tentative MBA agreement: Although the official version is currently available for members to read here. But early review of the terms raise a red flag concerning new media and internet streaming.


Statement by Kristen Stavola

Two Percent of Nothing is Nothing

....I ran this window by a web entrepreneur with 3 name brand technology/internet start ups on his resume. “You will lose nearly 90% of the property's value in that window. Just look at LAZY SUNDAY — a piece of entertainment content that created a 1.3 billion dollar company(YouTube). I’m not saying people made money. It’s an example of the kind of traffic a good piece of entertainment content can generate in a 30 DAY window. No one cares about it now, but in its first 10 days, seven million people checked it out. Why would you guys give up that much real estate so easily and quickly?”

Think about it. Why are we?

Two percent distributor’s gross in the third year of the new contract? Initial streaming window? I hope by now you’ve realized that the 2% (the AMPTP has forced upon us) is meaningless. The big traffic numbers have already come inside of the promotional, Residual free zone -- and we’re left with 2% of the stragglers.

Don’t be fooled because my LAZY SUNDAY example above was a 3 min clip and not an entire episode of a broadcast series. Your episode will only get promoted from prime real estate like a network homepage for 1-5 days— TOPS!

Traffic is about promotion and virality. You need to hit that first 100k- 200k viewers in the first 1-3 days if something is to catch on virally with regards to original content. Think of that Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video just last week! Its audience was on the decline within 3 days. However, its viewers online eclipsed Kimmel’s nightly ratings in 2-3 DAYS! Again, these are examples of how traffic views content. Something was promoting this content -- probably an email from your Striking writer pals. If there is no promotion -- viewers have to dig for your content -- and those numbers are not very sexy!

....We may even be told that because of the erosion of traditional broadcast viewing audience there is no ad-based money being made by the media congloms on streaming media — that they’re giving away streaming media to advertisers to make up the difference! C'mon! I just spoke to three web producers who are making more money PROMOTING our content in the first 3 days then we'll see in the first three YEARS of this contract. I’ve listed many links to research at the bottom of this email, use them. By 2011, in-stream advertising revenue is expected to reach $3.89 billion dollars and revenue for downloads will contribute $850 million according to the Yankee Group.

....And you better hold your hats because the number of sites that offer revenue sharing models (YouTube, Break, MetaCafe,Vio, Revver) will be on the rise this year and those deals are going to be about placement on their homepages in the first 1-7 days. If you think the episode of SAMANTHA WHO that debuted online 24 days ago is going to be getting any promotion from ABC/DISNEY....

Full Article....

34% (92.5% of 35%) of Writers Agreed to end the Strike

No, omission does not equal approval. The recent WGA vote to end the strike was touted as "92.5% voted in favor of ending" the strike. What was not reported anywhere is that 65% of the membership did not vote, which means the 92.5% is really 92.5% of 35% or 34%. What was that about statistics?

Why did only 3,500 of some 10,000+ members vote? I conjecture there are numerous reasons, possibly as many reasons as their are non-voters. But here are some generalizations on possible writer categories:

  • They're homeless due to the strike and the AMPTP's greed, which left them too poor to hold out for 3 months and now leaves them without even the means to register a vote. I know of one homeless writer's family personally. Their kids go to school with my kids.
  • They don't want to make waves with their employers.
  • They're in a quandary, tired and worn by the strike and want it to end but still can't honestly vote against their conscious to stand up for what's fair.
  • They've taken the attitude that they've been forced to end the strike given so little time to understand the deal (24 hours) being offered which would require legal interpretation.
  • They've decided the strike isn't an issue and they won't be vilified by the press for standing in the way of the Oscars.
  • They've decided to vote down the contract and don't care about the strike.
  • They don't give a shit. It's all a crap shoot business anyway, like William Goldman says.

Hey, without qualification, the numbers are meaningless.

The SAG 0.75%, aka the SAG 900.

Then there's SAG and the 0.75% member petition. 900 sounds like a lot don't it? Bull. It's 900 out of 120,000 SAG members. That's less than 1%. Zero point seven-five percent (0.75%). Yet this tiny little minority has the union split in two to discuss this issue and possibly vote on it, and the issue itself is about who should get to vote. No doubt the 900 feel they are first and perhaps the only ones in line. Not so strangely, AMPTP blog commenters support this 0.75%. Well, it's easier to buy off 900 than to give the 120,000 some decent money.

Arguments on both sides of the 0.75% proposal can be found here.

News flash! This just in (2/28/2008)! The pro-SAG disenfranchisement contract now has 1000 petition signers. This means 0.83% of SAG members are on board with elitist disenfranchisement. Bush must be proud. Anyway, before you know it they might actually have a full one percent of SAG on their side. Any month now.

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