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Comedian harnesses e-commerce for show distribution

15 December 2011 - 10:41 by Graham Miller

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US stand-up comedian, Louis C.K., has taken a frank and ultimately profitable approach to releasing a new concert film, turning to safe shopping online in order to get fans to part with a small amount of cash for his show, in a drive to reduce the amount of his material that is pirated.

The entertainment industry has been hit hard by web piracy, but C.K. has carried out a rather successful experiment to see whether his fans will ignore illegal routes if there is a convenient, cheap and unrestricted way of streaming and downloading his performance.

By charging just $5, the equivalent of £3.20 and allowing purchasers to keep the file, burn it to DVD and distribute it in any way they see fit, because there is no copy protection software included, C.K. has managed to get more than 110,000 people to legitimately pay for his product.

In a message to fans and to the industry as a whole posted on his site, he pointed out that you would usually expect to pay upwards of about £15 for the latest comedy DVD, with large chunks of this going to the company that filmed it, distributed it and marketed it, as well as to the retailer who stocked it.

Louis C.K. bypassed all of these middle men, setting up a website which did not have any complicated sign in process or any copy protection and letting users access the show in a format that was more convenient than attempting to pirate it.

Because he put up the money for the recording himself and treated his users with respect, without attempting to fight piracy in the traditional way, he has made around £120,000 in profit and this is likely to continue to rise as the story spreads. Hopefully, more media distributed online will follow this template and get money in the pockets of the creators, while pleasing the consumers.