Seth MacFarlane recently launched his new ad-supported animated shorts series “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” through SethComedy.com. The show is structured through Google’s Content Network with sponsors such as Burger King. As you can tell by the embedded episode, the reason for discussing this on Cartoon Brew is clearly not because of the content (left-over Family Guy gags that demean both the terms “cartoon” and “comedy”) but because of its novel online distribution model, which could open doors for other filmmakers. According to Ars Technica, here is how money is made on the shorts:
The episodes are short, ranging from under a minute to no more than two, and so far, they only consist of a preroll sponsorship-type ad (which is animated in McFarlane’s style, so it’s not very jarring at all) before the actual video. For now, the two available shorts are sponsored by Burger King, and they are cross-posted to the “BK Channel” on YouTube…As with much web video these days, episodes of the Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy can be shared with friends and embedded onto blogs and websites. The interesting part of the deal, however, is the revenue distribution. The videos will be run on sites across the web, basically as both content and advertising. Each time a viewer clicks on a Cavalcade video or ad, advertisers will pay a fee that gets split between MacFarlane, Google, the production company partner Media Rights, and the site hosting the video.
No one has the solution yet for how filmmakers can consistently earn money by placing their work online and in fact there may be dozens of solutions. What’s not in doubt is that the integration of advertising and content has proven to be one driving factors behind the growth online short film distribution. Experiments like MacFarlane’s will only help everybody figure out the models.