The Raw Power Of Louis CK: Even HBO Is Opening The Garden Gates

from the lessons-learned dept

Yesterday, Louis CK announced the seemingly impossible: his next comedy special will air on HBO, and also be available as a DRM-free download like his revolutionary Beacon Theatre show. Yes, even the network so infamous for its tight grip on content that fans have literally begged it to take their money can't ignore the overwhelming success of CK's open, inexpensive, highly accessible approach to content distribution.

So far there aren't many details on the arrangement, except that the DRM-free option will cost $5 and be available on CK's website "a few months" after the initial HBO airing. Now, of course, this is the very definition of a "release window" and thus far from a perfect situation, but it's still an astonishing step (in the right direction) for the notoriously controlling HBO. Traditionally, the network's content has only been available to cable subscribers or, much later, on physical media and in major digital media stores like iTunes — despite countless fans asking for an affordable, timely standalone digital option.

As we have often said, there is still lots of room for the traditional "middlemen" of the entertainment industry if they act as enablers and not as gatekeepers. While HBO is still keeping the gate by windowing the release, this move shows that they may be beginning to recognize the change in their role: they are highly experienced at producing comedy specials and can do a lot to enable even the most talented and self-sufficient comedians — but they wouldn't be able to strike a deal with someone like Louis CK if they insisted on having total control over the final product, since he's already clearly demonstrated that he doesn't need them for that. Indeed, if you compare this to Trent Reznor's new non-traditional label deal, it seems like we are seeing the beginnings of a trend: artists who have struck out on their own and succeeded are now bringing the lessons they've learned back to the big gatekeepers, and using their cultural clout and their proof-of-concept experiments to change the way business is done. That's encouraging, and exciting — for all the protestations from industry incumbents that they are trying to save artists, it may end up being smart artists who save the incumbents.

Filed Under: deals, gatekeepers, hbo, live performance, louis ck, windowing

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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 13 Nov 2012 @ 10:57pm

    Re: And the "new" here is what, again?

    "But won't be distributed outside of that by pirates?"

    Of course it will. These articles here tend to be about how to monetize content despite the existence of piracy, not the obsessive, unworkable, failed quest to "stop piracy" that you morons have committed yourself to. Yet again, you fail to understand the most basic points.

    "Anyhoo, same basic system as the last 50 years."

    Apart from the DRM free, reasonably priced download that the article is talking about, of course. AFAIK this is the first time a major broadcaster have offered such a thing online for a current product. But, you will ignore that too, especially since that's all most people have really been asking for since the beginning. Get rid of that pesky release window, and you have what people want.

    "Listen, guys, "DRM-free" is NOT free. "Inexpensive" ($5!) is not free."

    Only in your deranged mind did anyone claim it was.

    "he state that Mike promised since bandwidth is to him the only relevant cost (as he ignores "sunk (or fixed) costs"."

    ...and cap it up with not only a blatant lie but an attack on someone who didn't write the article you;re responding to.

    Classy as ever, dumbass.

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