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Film distribution’s dirty little digital secret

This is about the Film business leaking money that writers, directors, actors, distributors, studios, and stores don’t end up seeing..

This is not a story about The Silk Road, dark web, Tor, and how a guy from Texas built a $1b drug business while losing millions of $ of bitcoins to hackers, thieves, extortionists, and hardened criminals.

This is about the Film business leaking money that writers, directors, actors, distributors, studios, and stores don’t end up seeing. Why? Because the digital distribution business is actually pretty old school in its adoption of newer technologies that can help them stop the leak. The digital VoD business is losing millions every year because of those in the business that can’t nail down the details. Like the Silk Road started leaking millions and not worrying because it was making sh*t-tons of cash, the film food chain is doing the same. It has all gotten seriously complex and its scaling faster and faster and making more and more cash. A 10% leak on a few $m doesn’t matter so much, but 10% on a few $b does.

Having been at the coal face of VoD distribution since 2004, there are a few secrets that us ‘digital’ people didn’t really want the now ‘old media’ types knowing. This included truths like  ‘since everything was digital, it must be trackable, and it must be accurate.’ Eh no as it turns out. Or that the digital business must all be run on sophisticated software that gives you full visibility and therefore control over where your movie is, who’s buying it for how much and importantly that people can find it…Eh again no. Sadly we work in a ‘digital’ business where the costs of distribution of the ‘digital’ file now far outweigh the cost of sending an ‘old media.’ Getting a tape replicated was actually cheaper than getting a new file sent digitally. That is crazy, right?

The fact is that the transformation to digital has made distribution harder to manage and more expensive. It is still done using spreadsheets despite the biggest VoD businesses being perfectly capable of tracking and automating us at every turn. Apple, Google, Amazon surely know what they are selling…or do they? Eh, maybe not it turns out…Which is the ultimate insult but its a cold hard reality that we must now deal with.

This is why we had to do something about it. We started building a distribution solution that could fit in with other partners in the distribution food chain to simplify, provide control and then grow the business using contemporary tools, not old school processes or new school hubris about some AI tool saving the world. This is about building tools with a deep domain knowledge garnered over years of f*ck-ups and fixes to come to provide the industry with what amounts to the beginnings of a very sophisticated, automated yet simple to use platform for managing VoD distribution at scale.