Studios can't compete with economics of WebTV

John Shinal · August 5, 2008 · Short URL:

ManiaTV CEO Hoskins on how to make money on every show

ManiaTV CEO Peter Hoskins looks for several things before he will greenlight a show for his Web TV Network.

The most important is the story being told.

"Our sweet spot is good story-telling," Hoskins said at a panel of the Digital Hollywood conference in San Jose this week.

The content also needs to be episodic and produced specifically for the Web medium, "to forge a relationship with an audience," he says.

It should also be interactive and emotional, to engage the audience, much the way "American Idol" lets its viewers vote on contestants.

Lastly, and most important, it must be profitable. 

Every one of ManiaTV's shows is profitable, because the advertising and distribution is figured out in advance, and because Hoskins can produce an episode for between $2,000 and $2,500.

When he tells studio producers that he can make a show for "two-and-a-half," they think he's referring to millions of dollars, not thousands.

"The studios can't even understand how we do that," he says.

The Web video market will likely bifurcate into the big studios, which will only be able to do big-budget movies like "Batman," and smaller producers that produce content for niche audiences that are attractive to advertisers, says Sean Atkins, the former VP of digital media at HBO.

Atkins predicts that "the messy middle," or content aimed at a few million viewers that is produced by the traditional television networks, will go away.

"The networks are getting squeezed on both ends," as their production costs remain high while their audience continues to shrink, Atkins says.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Interviews" series

More episodes