How People Perceive and Use Our Streaming Fulldome Service
In fall 2015, we launched FULLDOME OnDemand. It currently offers 50 full-length and short-subject fulldome shows, streaming its 1080p HD videos via the Web. At 1k resolution, it’s obviously ideal for the smaller theaters with single-channel projectors, but as we’ll see later, there are some applications where it could be useful for larger theater purposes too.
We started with the titles that Loch Ness Productions already distributed with long-term licenses. We’ve since been contacted by other producers whose shows we did not distribute long-term, and we’ve added several of their titles too.
We’re happy to report we’ve seen the user base grow steadily, along with their appreciation of affordable content. These streaming rentals are generating a new, additional income for our producer partners, over and above their traditional income from long-term licenses.
We live in an on-demand world — Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify among many — so streaming content isn’t a new idea in the mainstream. However, it was new for fulldome. Nobody else had tried it before. We were the first. We felt pretty innovative to bring streaming content to the fulldome world.
Surveying FULLDOME OnDemand Users
As we grow, we’re interested in who’s using the service and why. So, we sent a short survey to our users. We asked them to tell us about themselves and their facility, what their budgets are, and why they chose FULLDOME OnDemand. In March, Carolyn presented a short summary of the results in Denver, Colorado, at the 2016 IMERSA Summit. Here is some of what she shared.
What Theaters Are Our Users?
As we expected, the responses confirmed schools are the largest part of the streaming “pie”. This is not surprising, since many smaller facilities are in educational institutions. The second largest block is independent, privately-run portable domes, most traveling around their countries to give presentations to school and civic groups. The remainder are colleges and university facilities, museums and astronomy clubs.
Where In The World?
So far, most of our customers are in the US, but as you can see, there’s been interest from the far corners of the globe. While all our show soundtracks are in English, we are making other language versions available on request, when we can get them. There have been several Polish portables that are good customers. Interestingly, at the IMERSA Summit, we had one producer congratulate us for reaching Oman, a place he said he’d never sold a show to!
What are they Renting?
While it’s still early, we’re already seeing some favorite titles emerge, as evidenced by the number of times they get repeatedly rented. So far, our users have rented 33 of the 50 shows we have to offer. We continue to add content, giving users a greater selection.
Not surprisingly, Earth & Space titles are the most popular, since they’re also the most plentiful. But Arts & Entertainment is a healthy part of the mix, which we find gratifying.
We asked people why they rented the shows they did, and most had very interesting reasons. Some found ways to fit some very specific needs, like the school who rented The Little Star That Could as part of their anti-bullying campaign.
By far the most common refrain was people were now able to present shows they could only dream about before. And, some comments illustrated a use we hoped they’d find — to expand their offerings menu; to try out new and different shows, with little risk.
Whether you’re a producer or a user, below are real-world examples of people given an opportunity — and using it! They contain actual quotes from users with their honest reactions to the service. Very eye-opening.
When we asked customers about their overall annual budgets, the range was from $200 to about $1,000. And, each one said their budget had to cover ALL their operating expenses, so they really had no money for anything else.
This finding allays a fear a few producers had expressed: that people would stop buying long-term licenses and just rent videos instead. It turns out none of these customers could have a bought a license at all. They just didn’t have the money to do so. But, they could afford short-term rentals.
The Big Picture
Our survey results confirmed what we suspected: there WAS a market out there that wasn’t being served. It’s made up of people who want good content but can’t afford it. Now, people whose budgets don’t allow for long-term licenses can afford the price of a pizza to spend on shows.
Best of all, for the producers whose work they rented — there’s now another income stream, where none was before.
Beyond the Little Domes
After we presented these findings at the IMERSA Summit, one staffer from a large dome theater came up to say they were quite intrigued. He said FULLDOME OnDemand could allow their facility to “audience test” shows they were considering buying under long-term license. They would stream shows into their portable dome, for selected public audiences and administrators. It could turn out to be a very cost-effective and immediate way to preview shows.
We urge all producers to consider using FULLDOME OnDemand as the go-to source for screening previews of their shows. Instead of insecurely shipping dome masters around and/or going through all the efforts involved in slicing, just in the hope of making a sale, a producer can simply offer their show through our service and direct potential buyers there. And, producers can get paid in the process, instead of making nothing!
Other discussions at IMERSA centered around the idea of “audience choice” nights in theaters where shows can be streamed. Or, how about Dome Club? Some folks pointed out they could afford to try out entertainment offerings as an alternative to their more-traditional offerings.
FULLDOME OnDemand continues to grow its list of users, and we are incredibly grateful to those who have already used the service, and to our partner producers for sharing our vision. It’s long been a dream for us to get great content into more theaters. Of course, at Loch Ness Productions we love to provide long-term licenses for those who can afford them, too.
Our survey showed that it is indeed possible to grow a new market among overlooked and underfunded venues. As time goes by, we hope people will consider FULLDOME OnDemand for all the other reasons we’ve listed here. It will continue to be a win-win for everybody!