Can Fandor Make Indie Film Profitable Online?

Reaching the niche market of independent film fans has been a goal for a number of online film platforms. Fandor is the newest entry in the contest. Launched late last year by Jonathan Marlow from GreenCine and ‘serial entrepreneur’ Dan Aronson, Fandor is getting buzz for offering a large selection of curated titles at a $10/month subscription fee. Unlike Netflix, which pays a fee based on a contracted license period, Fandor offers a per-use model in which 20% of revenues are divided among the filmmakers regardless of plays and 30% are split based on an “attention algorithm” which presumably measures the amount of time people spend watching each film, perhaps accounting somehow for how long each film is. In any case, what that means, if we were considering gross revenues (which perhaps is not the case), if Fandor has 50,000 subscribers, you would be looking at a base of $33/month for your film to be on the service.

Netflix has 20 million members, so perhaps Fandor has room to grow. On the other hand, MUBI, formerly The Auteurs, seems to have stalled a bit and sites like IndieFlix have never really caught on in the mainstream. Fandor is betting on a specialty audience and a editorial viewpoint to draw people to the site.

There is no reason not to place a film on Fandor if you are selling to Netflix, and even if you don’t make a Netflix sale, Fandor touts that they will carry a wide selection of films Netflix doesn’t have. Will independent film fans pony up? And will there be enough cinephiles to make it worth it?


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