The concept for Stike.TV was born amid an epic battle between Hollywood studios and their creative counterparts. A few disaffected writers, for the first time armed with cheap production AND the means of distribution, sought to make sand castles at a new sandbox.
Almost a year later, their sandbox is complete, but their tune has changed quite a bit. Strike no longer stands for the refusal to work under organized protest, but a more innocuous spark of creative freedom symbolized by a strike of lightening.
Here’s a taste:
Powered by BitGravity and streaming on Episodic players, Strike.TV sees itself not as an alternative to the current Hollywood system of production and distribution, but as a complementary component of the ever-shifting landscape.
The brand message and value proposition are simple – quality – as is the concept: Hollywood is a hotbed of talent, but the system isn’t intended to employ all creatives at all times. Strike.TV offers a new outlet for vetted talent to experiment, distribute and monetize work. Presently, only Writers Guild members can distribute work through Strike.TV, and though the company aims for more inclusion, it will always remain a community with high barriers to entry and highly vetted talent.
I sat down with Stike.TV founder and CEO Peter Hyoguchi to learn just what Strike.TV means…to creators and consumers:
Hyoguchi, a writer and director relatively new to Hollywood, sees writer buy-in as critical to Strike.TV’s success because, as we’ve noted here many times before, concept and story are fundamental to a project and drive all other elements.
His upcoming Strike.TV series, Me First, prods reality show about self-proclaimed experts (a la Dog Whisperer). In the series, Jefferey Wise, the most successful life coach in history, helps subjects “release their inner douchebag and learn how to put themselves first.”
Strike.TV is “a new kind of network” that aims to facilitate the distribution and monetization of self-funded, guild-member-created projects, unlike most new media studios, which generally comission or acquire content for upfront payment. Strike then shares its revenues 60/40 in favor of the creators.
And though the Hollywood collective appreciates the value of internet-distributed entertainment content – like, for instance, niche programming – it also recognizes its potential to drive the current Hollywood system with creator-supported pilots. Cash-strapped networks have begun devoting fewer resources to the production of pilots, and so fewer scripted shows make it to air. Strike.TV sees this as an opportunity to work with networks by offering free pilots with measurable traction.
As for the current economic climate of online video, with hesitant advertisers and no standard rates, Hyuoguchi equates this period of online video to television’s pre-Howdy Doody era. He explained over the phone:
“We’re in a position where we’re pre-Howdy Doody, which means this is very much like how television disrupted the industry when they came in in the 1950s. Until 1955, ad rates on radio were higher than on television, and that’s because there had yet to be a real hit that could justify advertising sales. So, when Howdy Doody came on the air, it was really the first hit. All the advertising metrics were established during that period when there was a big audience around a specific piece of content. Right now the internet stands where television did pre-Howdy Doody.“
Hyuoguchi told me he considers a big hit to be, “Going to a third world country and seeing a character from that show on a kid’s t-shirt.” Although he’s not sure when, he’s confident such a sensation will come out of Strike.TV:
The missing component from online video has been the professional writers. Previously, Hollywood writers created Howdy Doody and the first movie hit. History repeats itself. The people who made movies 100 years ago were not writers, but technical people…Then what happened is professional writers came in and created The Great Train Robbery. It’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end, had real writers, and became the first blockbuster. Same thing with Howdy Doody and the same thing will happen on the internet.
Lester Lewis, the supervising producer for NBC’s The Office, Strike.TV co-founder and co-creator of House Poor with Mindy Kaling, articulates the mission of the company in slightly different language.
Strike.TV strikes me (ha!) as a no-brainer for WGA members with ideas to share and, though its initial slate is somewhat limited, it shows a glimmer of what might prove to be a major force in entertainment.
MANY more shows are slated, but here’s what you can catch right now at Strike.TV…
- Global Warming starring Kristen Wiig and Aasif Mandvi
- House Poor with Mindy Kaling
- Tom Holland‘s 5 or Die (though upon launch, this didn’t seem to be up yet)
- Joe and Kate written by Kate Purdy and directed by Ryan Suffern
- Greenville General and Life In General both written by Karren Harris (one is a soap opera, the other is about life behinds-the-scenes of said soap opera)
- Daryl From OnCar written and produced by Russ Carney of America and starring Ron Corcillo
- Side Effects starring Ayre Gross and written/directed by Chuck Rose
- The Challenge with Bob Newhart
- Unknown Sender Steven de Souza
- With the Angels created by LG15 alum Mary Feuer