Former VAS GM On New Action Sports Digital Video Distribution Company, The Orchard

the orchard action sports

Over the last year, the action sports video distribution world has gone from a near monopoly to a wide-open frontier, as companies have sprung up to improve the options for bringing producers’ content to enthusiasts through an ever-expanding array of channels. While The Orchard is not a new company, it is bringing its expertise in digital distribution to the action sports world through a new initiative led by former VAS GM Danny Grant.

We caught up with Grant to learn how The Orchard’s Action Sports & Lifestyle Film Distribution division, which launches next week, will partner with producers to bring their content to channels such as YouTube’s new rental service, Hulu, PlayStation, iTunes, Amazon, and more.

Congrats on your new role with The Orchard. Give us a little background on the company and it’s move into the action sports video distribution space.

The Orchard is one of the world’s largest independent digital music and film distributors.  They began business in the late 90′s and were an early adopter to the digital music revolution.  The Orchard was one of the first content suppliers to Apple iTunes, and evolved into film along with iTunes and the other digital players.  Although action-sports as a film genre might be new to The Orchard, film distribution is not.  That’s where I come in.  I’ve spent the last 10 years in action sports media working for the company formally know as VAS Entertainment.  I started in sales selling VHS tapes and migrated to the GM role where I oversaw acquisitions, distribution, and operations before stepping away.

The distribution realm has been a bit of a free for all lately.

It has been a little chaotic.  There’s been a format shift, a consumption change, and added delivery methods.  In our world of media, the filmmakers do a great job producing and marketing their products.  They have it dialed, from sponsorship to film tours.  Most are fine self-distributing their DVDs, utilizing a brand partner, a DVD distributor, or a combination of all.  But in the digital market place, in order to get to the storefronts that matter, they need a little assistance.  That’s where we come in.

What makes The Orchard different and how does it benefit producers?

Great question.  One of the biggest differences is our reach and simplicity.  The problem in the past has been filmmakers and brands would have to do “one-off” deals with independent contractors to get placement on the established digital platforms.  They’d do a deal with an iTunes guy, maybe a deal directly with Amazon, and then a deal with someone else to get to PlayStation.  It’s a lot of work for the producer delivering assets all over the place, tracking royalties, working through contracts, et cetera.  It ultimately takes them away from focusing on their films.  With us, its been completely simplified.  We have created a one-stop solution to all the major digital platforms.  Producers deliver their assets once and its spread across iTunes, PlayStation, Xbox, Vudu, Amazon, Hulu, Google TV, and Netflix.  Those eight make up 99% of the digital market place.  Our goal is simple-maximize the digital revenue potential of a film while giving it the broadest exposure possible.  We’re not trying to tie up anyone’s rights, or build a catalog of films, it’s just flat out placement on platforms where they can make money and increase exposure for their sponsors.

The Orchard's dashboard provides a snapshot for producers of all digital sales

The Orchard's dashboard provides a snapshot for producers of all digital sales

This Dashboard thing looks cool, tell me about it.

Well, aside from providing a global reach, the dashboard is one of the things I’m most excited about.  It solves a very common problem with transparency.  We’re taking a straightforward and honest approach with community by providing clear visibility to royalties and accounting.  Gone are the days of having to wait two months to see a report that you need a degree in accounting to decipher or is just a basic excel sheet with totals.   All of our producers get access to their sales analytics any time they want by simply logging into our dashboard system.  They’ll see all of their releases including where and when every transaction took place.  From downloads to rentals, to streams, all the data is in one place. It’s all presented graphically with charts that provide very granular information.  The data is extremely flexible and can be diced up by title, territory, store, and date range.  If that isn’t enough, we also populate an iTunes heat map that allows producers to track sales globally by zip code.  This data is updated daily and is a huge asset to a company’s marketing department.  They can find out which markets are doing well or track a return on a particular activation.  The uses are endless.  It’s extremely powerful data that we are pleased to share with all of our producers and ties right back into our mission of transparency.  We’re very much a tech-focused company, continuously investing into the dashboard, adding new functionality, products, and enabling producers to manage more and more of their account through one place.

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