Best SVOD Services for Self-Distribution of Your Film or Series
So you finished the long, arduous, but rewarding creative process and now have a near-enough final cut of a film or series. The sacrifices made and lack of sleep feel more justifiable with a finished product-- but therein lies the rub: you’re not done. Not if distribution remains in question. Sure, you can go the festival route or write query letters or hope to be discovered. But, in many ways, this probably feels like someone asking you to run a marathon… immediately after you’ve just finished running a marathon. Even finding a distributor then presents challenges that invite questions like those of ownership and revenue share.
There is no magic formula here, nor is there a guarantee for getting your work in front of the largest audience possible (unless you’re Christoper Nolan), but you also didn’t sweat blood to make a film or a series in a vacuum. What about distributing the work yourself?
In the last few years, a lot of viable options for self-distribution have become available, but with choices comes research on which ones are the best fit. Want to keep the rights and ownership of your content, but still release your film or series to a streaming service? We have you covered and the following represent some of the strongest options out there, including both SVOD and VOD.
Comparing SVOD Services
Amazon Prime Video Direct*
*Big fat caveat: as of February 16, 2020, Amazon Prime Video Direct stopped allowing self-publishing so their studio can devote its efforts to distributing original content.
But don’t cry just yet. Sure, Prime Video Direct was once the best option as a platform for SVOD and VOD. If we look at the fine print and the company’s practices, however, this platform might not have been the one to rule them all anyway. The revenue share was not kind to creators with only fractions of a penny paid per watch minute and only 50% of revenue for rentals. Those who submitted films never knew when or if their film was accepted or when it might be made available. We heard horror stories of creators scheduling a series to go live on a specific date and pointing all marketing toward that… only to find out Amazon released the work at a different date with no notice. Same goes with removing content. It was entirely up to Amazon. They also didn’t allow a range of content formats like educational content, vlogs, or podcasts.
Yes, that’s us. But here are the details. Special.tv gives creators a platform optimized for getting viewers and converting them to subscribers with a cinematic experience, suite of tools that takes care of the account maintenance, and white glove treatment where a live human being can work with you step-by-step.
Creators keep 100% control of branding, pricing, and analytics (most streaming services don’t share analytics, make artists sign an exclusive licensing agreement, and hide the work in a sea of content). Creators keep 90% of all revenue with flexible pricing options that include the option for rentals, to create a subscription video channel for your brand or studio, and choose a subscription price. Monetize for global distribution for… well, it’s free to start your entire SVOD-- including but not limited to a branded channel -- because you own and control the entire experience.
A fantastic option for cinephiles and a curation paradigm that eliminates choice fatigue. Plus, they allow submissions. Their selections tend to lean toward the arthouse but away from work that’s obviously genre. No details are easily found for revenue split and their ownership agreement, but it’s generally based on watch time.
With an admirable goal of promoting and supporting “promote and support” social impact films to create positive change in the world,” IndieFlix takes submissions of all genres and is non-exclusive.
Their Revenue Per Minute pricing model remains a headache to figure out: 50% of net subscription revenue is divided “by the total number of minutes watched across all IndieFlix Streaming apps” to get to a per-minute number.
If that sounds vague, it’s because it is.
This service/platform offers another arthouse vibe, and that’s not a knock: they make good choices of the content put into the world. Plus, they want to see new work and accept submissions via electronic screener. Yet the way to get more information on this process, a distribution model, and revenue share is to email them and wait for a response.
A welcome focus on amplifying diverse voices of African descent (even undiscovered work) powers KweliTV’s catalogue selections. Their submission requirement -- which the company notes are so high in volume that they don’t respond to everyone -- is that the project “includes a lead character of African descent.”
Most of their featured work, however, earned “official selection” status at one or more film festivals with 65% of those being award winners.
VOD Aggregator Options
These options are primarily for distributors building up a catalogue of content to submit to the big aggregator players only for your hard work to land in an absolute sea of other competition for eyeballs:
- Google Play (they take queries at least but it doesn’t look promising)
- iTunes (say, “hello” to a 30% fee)
Thesis is: if you want to self-distribute through these more mainstream streaming SVOD services, the path lies through an aggregator. And these aggregators cost you money, and you often lose creator control.
That said, here are a few to consider:
Why Special.tv Might Be the Subscription Streaming Service for You
Let’s start with a 90% revenue share. Special.tv also built an optimized subscriber experience that’s fundamentally cinematic. You shouldn’t have to engineer one (unless you want to). And we take care of converting viewers so that you don’t have to think about custom-designing your personal SVOD service either; our platform originated from this very frustration. So we learned what works in the user experience and we give our tools to every single creator. If you have a brand and quality content, then we have an off-the-shelf SVOD platform for you.
On the dollars-and-cents side, we only make money when you do. If you earn a dollar, only then does our 10% kick in. No charges sneak onto a bill for subscribers or license fee. Special.tv is scalable and grows with you. Ours is a belief in prioritizing complete creator ownership.
When looking for SVOD, you might not choose us. That’s okay. We want your creative work to find the best home and biggest audience. Regardless, it's important to consider cost, time-to-release, support response, and your ability to attract that audience.
We’re on a soapbox here because we’ve seen this work. Special.tv is the easiest path to self-distribution. One of our creators, Huge Fly Fisherman, recently shifted away from YouTube to Special.tv and explained his decision to his audience in this video.
An atypically thoughtful conversation took place in the comments section, where one user made a strong case for SVOD platforms like ours:
Our hope is that this piece also aids you, as a creator, in also building a niche audience and finding more control, freedom, and revenue opportunities.