Behind the Science at DigiRiot

/ Aug 16, 2013


DigiRiot is looking to be a different type of “multi-channel network”: beginning with SciFiRiot, the company wants to launch themed channels that offer programming from different sources/creators — a TV-like media company for online audiences. It’s only been about eight months since Jorge Rivera, Alana Jackler, and Jeff Koenig started DigiRiot, but the company’s already supporting nine different creators under the SciFiRiot brand and is currently in the process of selecting another 10 to 12 for the next quarter. “We have a goal within the next year to grow to 20 different shows per week,” Koenig explains. “Studies say that anything more is when you hit oversaturation. We want our fans to follow us throughout the day within the vertical of each channel.”

But the plan is also bigger than that. “We look at DigiRiot as an overall company,” he said, referring to the fact that while right now only directs viewers to SciFiRiot, DigiRiot has plans to expand to other verticals. “Think about Viacom or Discovery, that kind of large company with lots of channels — that’s the idea. In six months to a year what we want to do is use DigiRiot to expand into horror or fairy tales.” Why those genres? “Fairy tales are not something applied much in this space, while horror has lots of followers and shares a lot of similarities with sci-fi.” And once one of those is established, “we’re open to women’s issues, parenting topics, sports, and the like — we’re just starting with sci-fi, seeing where it leads.”

“Remember: you are the dreamer, you build this world.”

Since Koenig already has a system in place for expanding DigiRiot, it probably comes as no surprise that he developed it from what has worked for SciFiRiot. It all starts with just one video. He elaborated, “People landing on one of our videos are already in our ecosystem. I believe very strongly that if they like what they saw, there has to be more for them to watch.”

Currently, SciFiRiot has about five hours worth of content in total, so “if you like what you saw in just one minute, we have a whole lot more where that came from. You can go deeper,” says Koenig.

In terms of a schedule, Mondays are comedy, Tuesday is for vlogs and commentary, Wednesday has a cooking show, Thursday is reserved for scripted drama, and Friday moves back into comedy again — and every single placement is deliberate. Koenig declared “We front-load the week very purposefully with familiar content, then move to scripted, maybe less traditionally successful content. Well, there’s tons of examples of successful scripted shows, but it’s about context and developing an audience.”

“A trillion dollars to find this place and bring you here.”

But just because there’s an audience, that doesn’t mean DigiRiot is instantaneously a successful, profitable company. Though DigiRiot doesn’t make any steps to control creative, it brings larger audiences to creators through cross-promotion with other SciFiRiot content, securing partnerships for creators, and providing a better entry point for all sci-fi content creators than YouTube can.

Koenig expands: “YouTube isn’t a great hub for information. It’s hard to find cast, crew, behind-the-scenes information, back-story, really getting into the worlds. SciFIRiot has a lot of room to explore each world. Our website will come to house that information, as well as a storefront and paid content.”

In fact, the storefront already sells items from the “Isa Llama Sci-Fi” show, including stickers and duct tape featured in the show. DigiRiot is also about to launch t-shirts for their shows. As important as these revenue streams are, Koenig sees opportunities elsewhere.

He’s working on direct-to-consumer sales that start from a freemium model. “YouTube is free content akin to Angry Birds, Zynga, and Ever Quest: a large amount of the product is free, but you have space to offer incentivized perks,” he says. “So we’re looking for opportunities to instill incentivized video on demand, trying to figure out what we can sell. Behind-the-scenes is traditional, but I think it doesn’t work — it’s just a DVD extra.”

Which is why the company has started selling recipes and instructions from “Sci-Fine Dining” — “at a reasonable price: 99 cents,” said Koenig — and licensing the films screened on “Malcontent’s Lab” so users looking for the film or to understand the references just have to chip in a nominal fee for the answers they’re looking for. It creates a new ecosystem: the cost of “Sci-Fi Dining”’s special guests and supplies are subsidized and viewers can cook like they’re there. Meanwhile, “Malcontent’s Lab” fans can support the movies, the movies themselves get more access to an established fan base, and “Malcontent’s Lab” can continue to feature new content. Koenig says, “Additional revenue can come in, but it’s a valuable additional extra to everyone.”

“Punch it, Mr. Sulu.”

The DigiRiot model is designed explicitly for scaling. Koenig characterized SciFiRiot as “aggregating an audience by type.” It enables the company to keep cross-promotional opportunities on the table, “it lets us keep our umbrella broad enough that we can have very specialized things like a sci-fi cooking show.”

He knows it will take a while, but he has confidence. “Getting a dollar from one user adds up pretty quickly compared to trying to get $5 from a thousand users,” he laughs.

It also helps that he’s optimistic about the next couple of months: “I know for a fact we’ve got some exciting stuff in the pipeline.” He adds, “If people like what we’re doing now, they’re going to love the next couple of months.”

And for those interested in getting in on entry level, DigiRiot is currently accepting video submissions.

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