Online Distribution


This is a growing list of online retail/rental/streaming sites that pay filmmakers something for their content. This is due for an update- expect to see a new version in the next few weeks.

Please share your own experiences working with these or other companies.

Amazon VOD (was Unbox)- Amazon’s new service is direct streaming to TiVo and online, as well as through the Roku Box. Studios have their own spaces on the site and there is a somewhat nebulously-defined “Independent” section. CreateSpace is the indie portal to access this market.

Ameibo & The Content Bay- This site buys both distributed content and the very independent, including adult.
Revenue is based on a referral system and a per-use charge. It’s on a BitTorrent infrastructure. Somewhat hard to understand but possibly useful for microbudget projects with all worldwide rights.

BigStar.tv- Slick, independent site aiming at the young male audience with a filmmaker-friendly site with rentals, downloads, and contests for short docs and short comedies announced.

Babelgum- Free internet TV/video channel. Ad-supported, producer receives 50% of ad revenues. To upload you “must be a company in the business of producing or distributing content.”

BitTorrent- “ad-supported” network, utilizing P2P technology to deliver legal content.

Caachi – Features independent and documentary, with ITVS as a main partner. Pretty niche but if this is your niche, maybe you will find some sales. Download and/or streaming. Filmmaker sets price, 75/25 split.

CinemaNow – Does streaming and downloads. Does not even have an “independent” section, let alone foreign or documentary. Just did a deal with Blockbuster Online (surprise!) to provide content. An article from TechDirt.

Documentary Film Network – UK site. While it looks a little sketchy, it allows filmmakers to upload docs and stream for free or to assess a commission of their choice- in the latter case, the site charges a fee of €1.50. They can also sell the DVD.

EZ-Takes – With quite a few distribution partners and a large catalog, this is one of the bigger DL-to-disc services. They have a sophisticated web site and offer iPod downloads in addition to the downloads to DVD. Filmmakers can deal directly with them “if they have over 20 titles” (!) otherwise they have a partner called “Picture Palace” whom you should contact first.

Film Annex- A mixture of social networking, ads, trailers, self-financed films for free and for fee.

Film Baby- Sell DVDs and downloads for small-budget films.

Film Fresh – another site focusing on independents. They both sell physical DVDs and downloads.

Hulu – mostly TV but do buy films- as evidenced by Cinetic’s recent placement of HOOP DREAMS. An independent producer might face challenges to place here, worth trying. They also just introduced a trailers site.

HungryFlix – Aimed at the portable market, features more “user-generated” and undistributed content, revenues are split 60/40 and filmmaker sets price though featured downloads are typically $.99. No DRM.

imeem- Social networking/ film sharing.

Indiepix- Sells DVDs and downloads to disc. Filmmaker friendly.

iTunes – the biggest player in pay-for-download at present, they offer both sales and rentals and the filmmaker generally gets a cut of the gross, minus fees- you need to negotiate. (see TuneCore)

ITV- – UK TV station with a large online presence.

Jaman.com- focuses on independent film. Rentals are $1.99-$3.99 and play on Jaman’s software. They can’t currently migrate to iPod. Of the standalone websites, they have the most sophisticated apparatus for selling smaller arthouse and documentary films. Filmmakers can contact them here.

Joost- – monetized through ad revenue (interspersed throughout the film in short breaks), the site is becoming more sophisticated and aims to be more oriented towards film, which is increasing in traffic or at least time spent on site. They work with Cinetic and a number of TV-oriented channels.

MovieFlix- Offers streaming, charges a monthly fee for unlimited views, mostly older films and B-movies.

Movielink- Now owned by Blockbuster Online. Download rentals to PC or TV (no Mac). Major studio affiliation as well as IFC.

Netflix – - Now offers streaming in addition to their DVD subscription service- will probably become much more popular with the growth of the Roku set-top box that allows streaming to conventional TV sets as well as direct streaming to some newer TVs and Blu-Ray players. The licensing fee is very low and is a flat fee, as a rule, but being on Netflix is good profile.

The Orchard- Primarily a music licensing service, they also provide advertising and other licensing services for film and video.

Reeltime Australia DL to DVD + DLs. TechCrunch article (unflattering).

Re:frame: A partnership between Tribeca Film Institute and Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, this project has a focus on educational and nontheatrical digital distribution.

SnagFilms- Distribution of full-length documentaries by way of a widget that allows users to share via blogs and social networking sites. Monetization is supposed to come from ads played throughout the films.

TuneCore- get your films onto iTunes for a fee (and no matter who you go through to get on iTunes, you pay, so this is actually a pretty good deal, even at about $800 for a feature).

Vongo – all-but-defunct defunct Starz network.

Vudu- Specializing in HD streaming, Vudu sells its own set-top box (for $299) and rents and sells DLs. At the moment their selection of Indie/Arthouse/Doc is limited.