As the streaming market grows, so does the demand for content. But even though it’s now easier than ever for filmmakers to create, distribution is still often controlled by traditional systems – meaning many filmmakers will still be shut out of Hollywood if they do not have the right connections. A company called Filmhub is working to solve this problem by making distribution easier and more efficient through technology. With its platform, filmmakers can distribute directly to more than 100 streaming channels, including big names like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, IMDb TV, TCL, Tubi, Plex and others.
Today, Filmhub announces a $ 6.8 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
Other participants in the round include 8VC, FundersClub, Eleven Prime, Tara Viswanathan (CEO of Rupa Health), Nick Greenfield (CEO of Candid), David Fraga (former COO of InVision) and Jerrod Engelberg (CEO of Codecov).
Filmhub started in 2016 as a side project of co-founder Klaus Badelt, an LA-based film composer who has worked on more than 100 titles over the years, including “The Thin Red Line”, “Gladiator”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ”and others. He had seen the opportunity in space as production costs fell and more films were made, but he was unable to get a strong distribution. Badelt later teamed up with technology industry veteran Alan d’Escragnolle, who previously had worked at sites like Square, Mint.com and Google, to take the project full-time by 2020.
Since then, Filmhub has been focused on growing the business, adding streaming channels as partners and bringing in more filmmakers who want an easier way to get their work discovered by an audience without having to give up their rights.
Filmhub begins by interviewing the filmmakers to ensure that their content meets the technical specifications of the streamers it works with. The company will then get that content up on as many streaming services as possible using automated technology and its own sales team. Although its name is “Filmhub”, d’Escragnolle clarifies that this content does not have to be just full-length films. It can also be serialized content like TV shows, shorts or any kind of professionally produced content. But its focus is on working directly with the filmmakers, he says.
“We believe that the traditional studio system does not end up being the friendliest towards filmmakers. For example, if you make a studio film as a filmmaker, you are typically paid in advance, ”he explains d’Escragnolle. But if the film picks up speed, the filmmaker may not be able to share in the revenue their work earns, he points out. “We believe there is an opportunity to restore power to the creator and the original filmmaker and give them the opportunity to build their own library,” adds d’Escragnolle.
In a way, what Filmhub does is similar to what other distribution platforms – like DistroKid – have done for the music industry, as they have allowed artists to upload their work directly to top streaming services instead of first having to sign an agreement with a label.
One of Filmhub’s newer partnerships is with Struum, the ClassPass-like streaming service that gathers content from smaller video services under its own subscription. Filmhub has worked with Struum to help filmmakers participating in the Slamdance Film Festival get distribution for their work. Struum will exclusively carry each Slamdance title for three months, and filmmakers will receive 100% of their earnings on Filmhub and Struum the first year, as part of the agreement.
Typically, Filmhub takes a 20% revenue share of royalties from the films it distributes. However, the rates that each streaming service pays Filmhub will vary.
Although the company does not share its turnover figures, d’Escragnolle says that turnover has increased by three times compared to the previous year, and it has grown from distributing thousands of titles to now 10,000 titles. Its content reaches over 100 streaming channels. With the data it has at hand, the company is also able to help its streaming partners better determine what kind of content will work best on its services. This in turn can help close trades.
Not all of the content that Filmhub distributes is new. Some movies can be modern, like Torsten Hoffmann’s 2020 documentary, “Cryptopia – Bitcoin, Blockchains, and The Future of the Internet”, for example. But older content, like the 2014 title “An Honest Liar” about the magician James Randi, can also see a strong other life when they hit the streaming platforms. According to d’Escragnolle, Filmhub also distributes classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s, which it considers “evergreen.” This kind of movies and TV series may never have gained a foothold on television today, but can take off on streaming services where they are able to get in touch with different audiences.
In the long run, Filmhub aims to launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service, which will include the content of the filmmakers. It hopes to make this service available across devices and even as an add-on within other companies’ existing streaming platforms. The company is now hiring for this project along with others in engineering, technical operations and sales, as a result of the financing, to expand its team of now only 35 people.
In today’s market, unless you are an established filmmaker, it can be very difficult to get your work discovered. This is a missed opportunity for both streaming services and consumers, especially given the potential we see for more diverse and international content, ”said Andrew Chen, general partner at a16z, about his investment. “By working to move the industry’s distribution model forward, Filmhub is creating a win-win win for creatives, platforms and viewers globally,” he added.
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