I was reading an article from Michael Geist, it shows some data about the Canadian film and television business. The private broadcasters collectively contributed 11% to all English language television. I don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the film and television business. If there’s anyone who knows more I’d love to learn more but that 11% made me realize that the business is more risk averse than I thought.
Making new shows is more than risky. Risk is something you know in business, it has a value you can account for. If you have an investment it can be high risk, or low risk. A broadcaster might have a combination of different shows. Broadcasters have some shows are stable, not huge, but they get will consistent numbers and be successful. Then you have the new show, your risky show, that can either be a flop, or a hit. If you have a mix of these different types of shows it hopefully balances itself out. The shows that are consistent and the shows that become hits, offset the shows that bomb. The safe route is to not make too many bombs.
In the Canadian industry this means most of the shows end up being somewhere in the middle. They end up safe. It goes so far that the broadcasters often won’t fund the entire show. The production studio often has to make up the cost of production from many different funding sources.
Taking on risk isn’t just up to the broadcasters and studios, it’s up to us. If we settle and decide to create safe content then we aren’t contributing fully. There’s a world of opportunity out there. A problem we face today is the television business hasn’t adapted much with the invention of the internet. Even though the internet changed everything about media distribution forever. I’ve been talking about how animation tends to be high risk. Why not look at areas that are low risk? If you have a project or story you want to share, putting it out online as a podcast, a comic, or short is incredibly low risk. It’ll cost you almost nothing, while giving you the chance to connect with an audience. If you make something then send it out to 10 friends and they pass it along you get to make more of it. While the rewards might be lower it is still possible to build a business and make a living. The other benefit of proving your idea in a cheaper medium is that you now have de-risked the project for those risk-averse broadcasters. If you’re making something important that’s already connecting with an audience they’ll likely be dying to work with you. Then it will be you who has the choice.