Mobcaster Brings Crowd-Funding To Online Television [Interview]

By Megan O'Neill 

Mobcaster is the world’s first crowd-funded television channel.  Through Mobcaster, aspiring TV makers can pitch ideas, build an audience, raise money for pilots and full series and, if all goes well, broadcast their shows on Mobcaster TV.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Mobcaster Co-Founder Aubrey Levy at VidCon last month to find out more about crowd-funded online television and how Mobcaster came about.

Levy explained the background behind Mobcaster.  “We had directly experienced how difficult and inefficient it was to develop new TV shows, both on the creative side (we were out there pitching, script in hand) and the network side.  We realized there needed to be a better way to help TV get made and enjoyed.

“Previously, the network/studio system had been the only way to discover and take to market new TV.  It’s a system that has the capacity to take in a fraction of the available new TV shows and then pumps them out with under 10% success rate.  It’s a tough game, and not necessarily the fault of the networks.  The process was put in place a long time ago, when it was prohibitively expensive to create TV content, and audiences passively watched TV shows one place – their TV sets.  Today, it’s cheaper than ever to create great television shows, and audiences are certainly watching them in more than one place and in increasingly engaged and interactive ways.  We wanted to create a process that reflected that, and hopefully added value for everyone, from creators to audiences to networks and advertisers.”

The Mobcaster process goes a little something like this: Creators come to Mobcaster to pitch their ideas.  Once they’ve been approved they do a round of crowd-funding to raise money to make the pilot.  They shoot the pilot and then, pilot-in-tow, they head back to fund the full series.

‘The Weatherman’ series is one example of a successful Mobcaster campaign.  The Weatherman raised $73,975 in total and the series is currently in development, with hopes to air by summer’s end.  This total represents the third largest episodic programming raise of all time, across all crowd-funding platforms, including Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  Click on the image below and watch the video on the MobCaster funding page to learn more about The Weatherman and to find out about the creators’ experience with Mobcaster.

Levy explains that, unlike other crowd-funding services, Mobcaster is “solely focused on television, which requires not just access to capital, but also a proper process and outlet to help that content get exposed and monetized.  As a result, crowd-funding is just our first step.  It’s the process that helps our creators access capital and gives our audience the voice to program our online channel.  But the end goal of Mobcaster isn’t the funding, it’s the discovery, consumption and enjoyment of full TV shows, chosen by the audience.”

The fact that crowd-funding leads to shows that are, as Levy says, “chosen by the audience,” weeds out the ideas that may have not been such big successes and ensures that the content that gets produced already has an audience (the funders).

Levy says, “The end viewer is the only person who ultimately matters as to whether your show succeeds or not.  Traditionally, viewers either show up to watch the show or they don’t.  If they don’t, the show’s cancelled.  With Mobcaster, the decision-making process is just engaged from the outset.  This can lead to a ton of valuable insight into a creator’s show, which can include learning that there may not be an audience for that show the way it’s conceived.  Or if your show doesn’t work, better that you learn that directly from the only constituent who ultimately matters anyway, the viewer, before having spent time and money to create it.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Mobcaster.  Please leave them in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.