August 29, 2014

Distribution & Curation's Love Child: Yekra Becomes the First 'DIY Digital Movie Theater'

For independents and studios alike, the online distribution of movies is a game that's heating up rather rapidly. There's already a handful of players in the game, so the first question I always ask to new platforms is: what are you offering that the others aren't? Funded with $3M in venture capital last year, YEKRA just launched, and they have a lot to say about online distribution. They have a really interesting affiliate program in which you can earn money by curating or sharing movies that are hosted on their platform. However, instead of trying to solely funnel people into their streaming platform, they are bringing their platform to you. So what does a VOD movie theater experience look like anyways? Let's find out.

Yekra Get Started with Your Own Movie Theater

YEKRA is marketing themselves with what is essentially universal appeal -- that is, hosting films of all kinds from all corners of the industry. However, it's not YEKRA's intention to become just another destination to stream movies online -- they want to break direct-distribution wide open. How? By allowing anyone to earn cash by curating and selling movies directly from their own websites. And not only just from a film's standalone website, something that VHX and Gumroad have already done well. YEKRA enables any online destination to bring film curation into their business model. For example, MovieMaker Magazine now has its own On Demand channel thanks to YEKRA's theater tools.

MovieMaker Magazine theater powered by Yekra

The YEKRA Movie Theater

Let me introduce the YEKRA movie theater to you guys, because it took me in a little while to understand how it works and its true potential. Thanks to a demo with Lee Waterworth in downtown Los Angeles last week, I got an in-depth look at YEKRA. Here's how it works: You either choose from YEKRA's preselected (by category/genre) curated columns to include on your site

or

you curate a custom collection of films that you want to sell from your website. This can be as simple as an individual putting a collection of their favorite movies on their personal website that they want people to watch (without having to ever leave the website). Alternatively an established, large company can start earning money off movies that might fit in with their audiences values.

YEKRA's partnership with Dick Rolfe’s DOVE Foundation is an example of how a company is leveraging YEKRA's tools to create a "family-friendly" curated VOD theater.

Yekra's Curated Theater
Yekra Demo in Downtown LA

YEKRA AffiliateConnect Program

The main thing that distinguishes Yekra right off the bat is its affiliates program. It raises the stakes for audiences (large and small) and aims to redefine the meaning -- or rather, the value -- of sharing. Outreach, marketing and promotion are expensive and exhausting -- but what if you could make money promoting films you love, sitting on your couch eating potato chips? This is America, folks.

But seriously, it is a cool idea and we'll have to see how it's executed in terms of what kind of numbers can be achieved using this system.

Just last April, YEKRA launched SIRIUS, a film that has made over $550,000 on the platform to date. The producer of SIRIUS J.D. Seraphine, calls YEKRA:

“A revolutionary distribution platform — we had over $250k in sales in the first 48 hours which we were able to track in real time, while maintaining full control over the rights to our film.”

SIRIUS by the numbers:

  • 1,765 affiliates who promoted the movie to their audiences
  • ~50% of total gross sales was through these affiliates
  • 10% of gross came from Yekra.com marketing to its members
  • The largest affiliate has earned over $11,000 to date

There's some interesting stats to think about. Albeit the $11,000 earned was likely a large company with access to a lot of eyeballs and not an individual, it still shows you that there is real money to be made with YEKRA's model.

How much can you make promoting movies with YEKRA?

There's no definitive model for how much affiliates make in terms of revenue split. It all depends on the deal you make with the film's liaisons and how well you can promote the film or films you're affiliated with.

The set commission percentage depends on which film you’re helping to promote. How much you earn in commissions is directly tied to how successful you are in promoting the film.

Okay, well, who decides the commission rates?

Filmmakers and their publishers are the ones that decide on commission rates. One of the fantastic things about AffiliateConnect with Yekra is that filmmakers (and their publishers) are able to work directly with affiliates to help promote their films while setting the percentage commission you’ll earn for that film.

Though I haven't used it yet, it seems incredibly intuitive. My main concern with this model is that the YEKRA ecosystem needs to be really strong for it to work. The rights for many acclaimed films are in legal twister, can there be one platform to rule them all? It seems like becoming ubiquitous is what YEKRA needs to do to get the most out of their model.

The YEKRA Player

Holding true to their philosophy of bringing YEKRA to destinations that already exist -- and keeping them there -- everything happens within the player. You can purchase the film right within the player without being routed somewhere else.

Note: You still have to sign up for a YEKRA member account in order to complete a transaction.

Yekra's Web Player

Compatibility

YEKRA is currently only compatible with Mac OS, Windows, iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones, but I'm told they are working hard to get it to other streaming devices (Xbox, Roku, etc.) ASAP.

Submit your film to YEKRA

YEKRA accepts all films through a submission process.

Mention No Film School on your submission form and the team will prioritize your submission.

Of course we know by now that the success of any one film isn't because of any platform it's on, however it gives you the chance to draw audiences to your film in droves. The equation for that kind of success is constantly shifting, but one thing is for sure: direct-distribution is here to stay, and YEKRA seems to be planning for the long haul.

To keep track of distribution tools, I'll be updating my direct-distribution roundup over the next few weeks. Share your thoughts about YEKRA in the comments below.

Your Comment

7 Comments

A fascinating idea and ultimate in niche marketing.
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BTW, they have both the "buy" and "rent" options (rent has a 48 hrs viewing window) and a range of prices from $4 for the "straight to video" type of releases to $18 for the major films. The major films are available via other sources but folks might be more inclined to purchase them via their circle of friends or acquaintances. This is where it pays to have a bunch of followers on the social networks. Literally.

August 29, 2014 at 1:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Thanks for covering. Difficult to understand exactly what they are doing from their site as everything happens on other people's sites... Brilliant idea. I just got my theater from them and am looking forward to offering movies to my peeps.

August 29, 2014 at 7:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave

OK this is truly fascinating and innovative. Can't wait to see where this goes!

August 29, 2014 at 9:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

sounds pretty good. I really like the BandCamp model, myself.

August 30, 2014 at 1:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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alex

Not sure how great a business model this is but holy cow, what a terrible name!

August 30, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Common Tator

I met with one of their team recently about my documentary and my first question was what the name meant. The answer wasn't expected - they told me it meant one path in Farsi. Its actually genius as it has very relevant meaning. That said what do most Internet names mean? People adopt whatever ultimately becomes successful and I'm sure startups cant generally afford ideal domain names these days unless CAA are backing them.

As for the model, the way I look at it from this article is this... If they could return over 500k from something as random as Sirius, clearly they can sell ice to the Eskimos. And if an extra 60% came through affiliates and themselves (I'm assuming this is in addition to them selling from their own site, can the writer confirm?) Then who wouldn't want the ability to generate that extra revenue available to them?

Besides which, their player, which I got the chance to look at in detail is the only truly embeddable offering and is much slicker than anyone else's who have much more cash in the game. No account creation gateway to get in the way of customers entering their details, no diversion, redirects or pop ups back to someone else's site (like Vimeo, Reelhouse and VHX) to purchase and watch which results in losing many potential customers. And you can sell anything you want with DRM or DRM free.

I'm going to give it a shot. Spent a lot of time researching all of the options and they truly feel like the best solution out there for helping me sell. Maybe not as slick on the back end as others but who cares if they are focussing their time on helping develop things that result in me selling more?

Wanted to share. Am so excited by everything that is going on in this space right now.

August 30, 2014 at 7:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ondi

Let a million flowers grow ~ Mao. Startup Yekra might just do that!

August 31, 2014 at 12:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gul Ramani

Actually what Yekra done not just for the movies industry but also to the affiliate marketing industry is massive.
Now i can tell my students (affiliate marketers) about this new model, and i say model because we can contact movie makers now and convenience them to upload their movie to Yekra, and we do all the promotion work and get the affiliate commission. This is totally different than the common pay per sale affiliate marketing model.

Kyle
@ http://affset.com

February 10, 2016 at 2:04PM

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