Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters of T3 Networks Inc.
Lately you may have visited our website only to see that it was blackened out and probably wondering “what’s up?” and “why is your website down?” Last week we joined thousands of others around the world that went also went black and shut down their websites including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn, AOL and Zynga and many others in protest of two pending pieces of legislation in the United States referred to as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
In a nutshell these bills pitted television and media companies against online entities to combat and protect the interests of copyright holders and intellectual property from being downloaded and/or otherwise would block access to sites that fuel it. Its targets include “rogue” overseas sites and torrent hubs which essentially operate as a trading ground for illegal downloads of movies and other digital content. And while we are not a fan of those that would illegally download and/or pirate content, the provisions as originally written would have required Internet access providers and other companies to block access to targeted sites in ways that were rife with potential unintended consequences that many (including us) believe is a risk to cyber-security using DNS blocking and invites hacking, and further may shut down legitimate websites that are the staple of user generated content.
For our filmmaker partners, clients and television producer entities, we highly encourage that you take time out to learn more about both PIPA and SOPA; (it’s all over the Internet and you can do your own searches and due diligence).
The Future of T3: our company has ceased operations
So as you are reading all of this you may wonder why all of the PIPA and SOPA hype – and if it all may sound obscure to you and unrelated to T3, yet we assure you that’s not the case at all.
Each day we struggle with clients that come to us with various films and television projects where we painstakingly spend hours uploading, encoding, and preparing clips in our submission to the various television networks only to learn later that our clients may have “borrowed” a Willie Nelson song and/or where even classical music and Top 40 tracks are used widely in promo reels without the required licensing in place. And, while perhaps well-intended if these new rules were in place we’d be shut down.
This is only one aspect of how complicated our business has become and the result is then often we can’t sell our products in its current form and we have a work stoppage in place. And with this legislation in place its then fair game to shut down our site (and/or wherever the video may reside) despite the fact that we may be not aware of any such violation.
Similarly we have additional daily challenges when we spend hours in pursuing the sale or licensing of a project that requires the same level of effort only to learn that there’s not any E&O insurance in place and/or when our clients forget or don’t take the time out to register their intellectual property and works with the Library of Congress.
Conversely, we’ve seen it happen the other way where our clients themselves find their works pirated by the television networks who “borrow” a clip from our submissions and post it on their website as the fine print in the submittal allows them to do so (and while the content was not deemed worthy enough for licensing on television, the network finds that these “free” clips drive traffic to their website; wouldn’t it be fitting then to turn off their network?)
Beyond licensing, copyrights and related issues, each day we deal with other headaches that include: HD vs. SD, 4:3 vs. 16:9, countless hours of FTP uploading (only to have it fail and start over again), a dizzying array of encoding protocols, resolutions, network quality guidelines, color correction, audio levels, streaming bitrates, and hours upon hours of editing clips, sending video emails, database updates, revisions of show treatments/show bibles — and all of this on top of keeping tabs on the current list of projects, buyers, programming and acquisition executives, and keeping our submitted content on the minds of those who buy and procure content for the television marketplace, (and all while keeping our heads above water financially).
If it sounds daunting it is, and all along we wanted to make clear that we would leverage existing technology where possible — and we have spent literally hundreds of hours in vetting out various Online Video Players (OVP) and pay-per-view streaming platforms.
Many of our clients have heard us say “which is harder, to implement PPV on a website or mobile device — or getting people to go to that website/portal and buy it”. Of course it’s the latter, but at the same time we believe that users don’t want to go through the hassle of entering their credit card data on a per-video viewing as its way too cumbersome. So while the technology is there that offers the ability to monetize content (other than television licensing) that doesn’t always translate into sales/results as we again did not want to build a business that would compete with Brightcove, Ooyala, Blip, etc. and again we are/were a TV-licensed focused business. Further, do you truly want to sit and watch something on the small screen that was intended for the big screen or TV?
Our daily challenges and that of our clients are further evident by the speed in which convergence in the marketplace is taking root — and we find that our clients have poorly prepared for straddling the gulf that is the “lean back” television marketplace with that of the “lean forward” online viewing offered in portals and websites where content must be prepped for tablets, i-Phones, and screens and operating systems of all types.
Suffice it to say that as a company we lack the sales, personnel and additional resources essential to continue operations as a business which requires that we prep this content, attend film festivals, recruit new clients, and as we are geographically challenged by not being located in NY or LA — we struggle with being able to keep our submissions on the radar of these various programming and acquisition executives who are bombarded daily with programs and project submissions with each network becoming narrower each day in terms of its needs and requirements.
In the end — it has proven to be too much and sadly we must say goodbye to T3 as we do not have the financial and human capital resources to take on all of these challenges, and at the same time build the kind of critical mass that is essential in becoming an aggregator of “over the top” or “TV everywhere” content.
In whatever capacity you may have supported our firm we would like to say “thank you” and as we have no assets or sales, our firm has reached a point of dissolution we will let the camera fade to black and consider what may have been and chalk this up as a learning experience. And, if you are a producer or filmmaker we can truly understand what it means to put your lifeblood into your project and the constant promotion that goes along with finding your audience. In a similar fashion, we have invested our time and energy into something we hate to see come to an end, yet that’s where we are.
In turn, the global economy as a whole has also made it tough on us as well as audiences in general have retreated from theatres to $1 video kiosks, $3.99 DVD’s, and a plethora of online movie providers with a wide variety of well-known (and often free) titles that makes it difficult for us and our clients to achieve the kind of growth we would have anticipated. In parallel with this tepid marketplace, television networks are less inclined to take risks that are associated with our clients, and alternatively favor projects and films that offer them assuredness of a particular demographic and where their programming content will deliver guaranteed results.
Going back to PIPA and SOPA then for a moment having your content copyright protected and/or your intellectual property licensed is not enough; your video has be ubiquitously everywhere and simultaneously in competition with content found on web-integrated televisions and where we believe that the future is headed with the TV’s themselves become huge tablets and serving up app videos on demand.
Today there is time-shifting, place-shifting and so many other elements in play that if you’re a television producer or filmmaker, you need to get your head around the fact that your audiences are everywhere and your content needs to be prepared, licensed and readied for viewing in just about any viewing environment. And, instead of a cooperative effort in doing this — we have taken it upon ourselves to do these tasks with the net result that it has deterred us from our sales and marketing efforts, keeping our pipeline full, and the essential task of recruiting new clients. Thus the true measure for our business is that our top line revenue is nil, and certainly not then enough to sustain our business.
Further, social media and promotional adverting is not enough as each project needs marketing, legal, and all sorts of help in getting your film and/or television project picked-up. Again, trying to do this given our limited resources has been a recipe for failure, and one of the reasons that there are so few companies like us that perform on a success-based commission structure.
For those that have contributed and supported T3 in whatever capacity you may have assisted our firm, we are eternally grateful – and effectively immediately we have shuttered our company, closed our computers, shut down our encoding, turned off our streaming, and headed for a quiet spot to read a book, pray, meditate and reflect upon our learning experience.
May God Bless You — and from T3 thanks again for all your support!