Days after comedian Louis C.K. launched his content and distribution experiment, the results are in, and it appears that he may have inadvertently kicked off a new era of celebrity-controlled Internet content.
On Dec. 10, C.K. offered his one-hour "Live at the Beacon Theater" show for streaming or download for $5, free of any digital rights management (DRM). The move received a lot of attention via traditional and social media, but the main question on everyone's mind was: How will a show delivered directly from a niche comedian do when offered without the marketing muscle and distribution controls of a major company like HBO or Comedy Central?
According to data posted on C.K.'s Web site, the experiment pulled in a $200,000 profit.
"I directed this video myself and the production of the video cost around $170,000…The development of the website was around $32,000…The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th," he wrote. "12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of [December 13, 2011], we've sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000…"