Online distribution has really taken off over the last few years, with platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime producing and funding Emmy winning original content, such as Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Transparent. Following the trend, BitTorrent has just announce a new partnership with Rapid Eye Studios, in a bid to produce/distribute original content for the platform, the new programming will be known as BitTorrent Originals.
The plan is to distribute first-run film/tv content via BitTorrent Bundle exclusively for a 30 – 60 day run, after which programmes will be shopped by Paradigm, to distribute through traditional channels.
The partnership comes hot on the heels of last November’s move by BitTorrent to open its Premium PayGate plans to all creatives. The share in profits is a generous split of 90/10 in favor of the content creators, with marketing support throughout the entire BT ecosystem. Creators can choose to offer their content via the EST (Electronic Sell Through) model or through advertising support.
Programming criteria includes a focus on stories that appeal to BT’s primary audience of 14-25 year olds, which make up an active monthly user base of 170 million.
Rapid Eye’s first project Children of the Machine (CotM) begins shooting this spring, and tells the story of young adulthood on earth, after a major tech upheaval. Creators Marco Weber (Igby goes Down, Unthinkable, The 13th Floor) and Jeff Stockwell (Bridge to Terabithea, The Dangerous Live of Altar Boys) will write and serve as Executive Producers of the sci-fi series.
“I’m looking forward to creating an alternative distribution ecosystem for creators, filmmakers, and talent — bringing new stories to a
growing, influential millennial audience”
Marco Weber, Rapid Eye CEO
“This landmark deal with Marco is a major milestone for us and an aggressive expansion into the media space for BitTorrent,” stated Eric Klinker, CEO for BT. “In the last two years, we’ve become a trusted and valid channel for creators and publishers to reach a monthly global audience of 170 million fans directly. Expanding into the world of original content is a move that makes us a serious player in the media business, and takes us another step closer toward our goal: creating a sustainable digital future for creators of all kinds.”
The pilot episode of CotM will launch in late 2015 for free via the platform’s advertiser supported model. Later airing, after the initial 60-day exclusive window, on CONtv, Cinedigm’s Comic-Con digital network. If viewers enjoy the pilot, they can pre-order the entire series, which will be produced once funding has reached its 250K subscriber threshold.
The first season of eight 60-minute episodes is anticipated to reach 60-80 million viewers worldwide, with a premium version of the series available for US$9.95. An additional bundle will also feature a new video game based on the series.
“We were hooked on Children of the Machine after reading the first script and we think our audience will be too,” said Matt Mason, Chief Content Officer, BT. “Marco’s vision for how far we can take original content is now becoming a reality that will change the entire business. Others in the original content space such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu have made great progress, but we are starting out with a big advantage: We have a larger audience than all of those platforms combined.”
“Since our launch in 2013, our users have streamed or downloaded hundreds of millions Bundles from the likes of Sony Pictures Classics, Universal, Cinedigm, FilmBuff and Drafthouse, in addition to work from musicians such as Thom Yorke, Madonna, Linkin Park, Kaskade and multiple projects from every one of the major labels,” Mason added.
Rapid Eye CEO, Marco Webber said of the deal, “When I approached Eric, Matt and the Bundle team with the concept for BitTorrent Originals, they immediately signed on. Once we started approaching major brands and advertisers with the series, the response was incredible. They were incredibly intrigued by the outlook of reaching an audience in the most attractive demographic (14-25 year olds). The young and rebellious image of the brand certainly helped.”
Global advertisers are currently in negotiations with BT and Rapid Eye to provide sponsorship, advertising, and brand integration opportunities.
“We have received an unprecedented and positive response from the largest global brands wanting to be a part of the BitTorrent Originals initiative,” added BT Chief Operating Officer, Ro Choy. “Through [the initiative] we enable brands to reach our massive, highly engaged, and coveted audience; not only through traditional standard ad placements but by integrating brands into the content itself.”
Webber added, “I’m looking forward to creating an alternative distribution ecosystem for creators, filmmakers, and talent — bringing new stories to a growing, influential millennial audience.”
Check out the CotM teaser below:
Rapid Eye Studios and Marco Weber are represented by Paradigm and Attorney Paul Mayersohn of Surpin and Mayersohn LLP.
Jeff Stockwell is represented by UTA, Kaplan Perrone Entertainment and Attorney Jeff Frankel and Scott Whitehead of McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP.