Louis CK beats the media giants

Direct downloads turn a healthy profit

Louis CK made a profit from the stand-up special he released as a $5 download in just 12 hours.

He bypassed the traditional DVD distributors to offer the hour-long show direct to fans. And now, just four days after its release, free of copy protection, he has already earned $200,000 (around £128,000) from it.

He said that although this was, at this stage, less than he would have been paid had he gone down the usual corporate route, it proved the idea was viable.

The 44-year-old comic released details of the budget on his website, saying that fans were interested in the outcome of the experiment they had invested in.

He said the professional six-camera shoot – which he directed and edited himself – cost him around $170,000 which was largely met by the audience buying tickets to the two shows that were recorded at the 2,500-capacity Beacon Theater in New York. Another $32,000 went on developing a robust website to handle the orders.

CK wrote: ‘The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10. Twelve hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of today, 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

‘This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely.

‘This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.

‘I really hope people keep buying it a lot, so I can have shitloads of money, but at this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked. ... I'm really glad I put this out here this way and I'll certainly do it again.’

Read Chortle’s review of the show here.

Published: 14 Dec 2011

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