What is knowledge worth? How can we place a value on education, on reason, on being properly informed? More importantly, if there was no monetary value on education and knowledge, would it have significance in our society?
In our fast-paced lives, surrounded by ever-speedier means to send and receive information, entertainment and knowledge, one question that I, as a content producer must grapple with is how much is this information worth to others?
The internet has no doubt revolutionized the way modern societies access and consume information. Right behind information is entertainment. With this paradigm shift is an important issue that people in the entertainment industry are facing, some gladly, others kicking and screaming. A few still have just buried their head in the sand (I submit that’s a start, they might as well keep digging into that sand)
You no doubt have heard of the strikes that have occurred in Hollywood with artists studios and agents all locking horns to determine rights, residuals and royalties. The Writer’s Guild of America strike lasted 100 days and is said to have cost up to 2.1 billion in opportunity costs. These talks included discussions about how rights and royalties would be paid for content that is streamed or downloaded through “New Media” sources, IE the Internet, mobile devices, etc.
How much content do you personally consume on the internet? How much of it if completely free to you, the end user? (Beside the cost for your bandwidth) I would guess that 90% or more is about right for most people. Everyone says they still pay for music too! ..That’s funny.
The issue that drives this home for me is the simple fact that I produce content. I work hard on ideas, assemble groups of talented people and create videos, projects, movies, shows. I do this with the intention of #1 Entertaining, #2 Educating, #3 Making a Living.
In increasing levels of difficulty those three precepts make what I do for a living a challenge. It’s relatively easy to entertain someone (especially after you’ve been doing it for some time) It’s not as easy to educate someone; that becomes increasingly more subjective depending on your audience, and #3 making a living at it, is the toughest part most times.
When you sit down at your computer, put on your iPod or turn on the radio, you’re presented with an almost unlimited number of options to entertain you and educate you. So my question is this: What would you pay to get a program that is educational, and entertaining if it was centered around subjects related to Skepticism and critical thinking?
My production team, Brian Dunning, Shira Lazar and I have recently completed the first episode of another skepticism-oriented project called Truth Hurts. We are developing this program as a web series that is accessible and viewed online. These shorter (around 10 minute) entertaining, funny and educational shows will provide a great way to interject thinking with ideas, products and claims that are found in our daily lives. We screened a “director’s cut” during TAM7 in Las Vegas and got some great feedback for it. We are currently completing the edit and tightening it up.
As we plan the distribution and release of this series, we find ourselves engaged in the discussion that so many are grappling with right now: How do you monetize content on the Internet when you are surrounded by content that is free for the taking? Advertising seems to be the way to go, and will most likely be the case for our program as well, (We are looking for sponsors currently) But there are other options, such as pay-per download and subscription based content. The way we stand out and offer a value is by placing a high importance on production quality, uniqueness of the content, and a fun show that is also educational.
My goal is to make the content accessible to the widest audience available, and that means it’s got to be 100% free to view. So we need to have three things: 1. Advertisers that wish to align their brand with the types of people that would watch our show which, right now would mostly be our skeptical community, but would eventually shift to mainstream audiences and even to “believers” in the hocus that we slay. 2: People that are able to donate money directly to the project to support the type of content that we are creating. And 3: A energetic audience that tells their friends about the show and help it hopefully go “viral” so that it’s quickly consumed by the mainstream media audience.
So I ask you, wonderful blog-reader bulldogs of critical thinking and punctuation, here’s a little questionnaire for you, would you help us with an impromptu marketing research?
1.What would YOU pay to watch an episode of a skeptical show on the Internet?
2. Would you go to a specific website (IE: www.TruthHurts.tv) at least once a month to watch a new episode.
3. Would you want to be able to download it?
4. Would you sign up for a subscription service that electronically delivered the content to you for a monthly fee?
5. Would you donate money directly to the production entity producing the content? (If so, look below!)
We have plans in place and operations in motion to bring both The Skeptologists and TruthHurts to audiences soon, but having this information will help us to see how our little slice of web visitors to this site feel about these subjects. Your information and comments are very valuable to us!
As my dedicated team and I strive to create new and entertaining way of getting the concepts of Skepticism into the mainstream media, we’re working all the angles possible to bring these ideas to life! Your help and support is going a long way towards making that happen!