Feb 14, 2013
The Brony Documentary and why it failed
Alternative Reasons for the Poor Profit for the Brony documentary
Originally on Deviant Art - genesis890
For those who don't know, the anticipated Bronycon Documentary (AKA. Bronies the Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony) has not been selling well. This was posted on Equestria Daily on Feb 8th 2013 and it states that those involved in the project believe that the reason it is not selling well is because of piracy. While it is possible that piracy might have some impact in their sale figures, it is just one of many reasons.
1. Niche Product:
The documentary is designed to help those learn about the Brony culture. However, the problem is that only a small group of people would care to learn about a fandom like the Bronies. For the most part, people fall into three camps: They either hate the Bronies so they don't want to spend money on a documentary, they either are indifferent and don't care to learn, or they are interested in learning. If we assume that it's divided evenly into thirds, only one-third has any interest in such a product. If most of the people aren't going to spend money on a product, this explains part of the problem. Now, it is true that the world isn't this neatly divided up. One part could be larger than the other one. The point is to make the math easy and to easily show why niche products usually do not sell well. The product only appeals to a small group so your profit will be smaller too. However, what about the niche market? What about Bronies? The study done back in Sep 12 of 2012 showed that there were about seven million to twelve million Bronies in the USA alone (tp://herdcensus.com/generalsurvey.shtml). So why aren't the people rolling in dough?
2. Split in the Fandom:
When the documentary was announced, many Bronies reacted differently to the news. Again, like before, people fall into three camps: Either they hated the idea, were indifferent, or supported it. As you can see, the size went from a broad appeal, to a niche, to a niche within a niche (nicheception!). To help you understand how small this is. Let's say you had 100 dollars. You gave two-thirds of it away to a friend. You are now left with 33.33 dollars. Another friend then asked you for two-thirds of what you had left. You now have 11.11 dollars left or in some cases two less friends. But still, the Brony community is huge! If we were to assume that only a third of the fandom wanted to see it, then the people involved should be making good money at their asking price of 13 dollars: 13 dollars * 4 million (A third of the 12 million believed to be in USA)= 52,000,000 million dollars! So what is the problem?
3. Lack of Money:
Yes, the Brony Documentary was able to get over 300,000 dollars (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/257527888/bronycon-the-documentary). However, there were 2,621 backers on Kickstarter and there were more through Paypal. So, yes, the Brony community does have money, but only a small group! If we assume that that there were 5,000 backers, that is still a far cry from 4 million USA Bronies. That 5,000 is likely all the bronies who wanted it in the first place. Even if we assume the brony fandom is small in America, it still doesn't explain why it isn't selling well. It is true that the documentary is 13 dollars, and that is a cheap price. However, for most people, the documentary is a luxury. It would be nice if they had it, but they can live without it. Also, keep in mind that according to this study (tp://herdcensus.com/generalsurvey.shtml), most Bronies are 15 to 29 years old and in college. This means that most of their money is going toward college or stuff outside of the fandom. So if we divide those who want it by three and then a further two between those who have money and those who don't, the number becomes 1,166,666 million people ((7 million/3)/2= 1,166,66) But that isn't the only reason.
4. Slow Transfer of Information:
Yes, Equestria Daily helps out enormously in informing Bronies about what is going on in the fandom. However, not all Bronies go onto Equestria Daily and it does take some time before information trickles down to other forums and other places. The reason is that besides Equestria Daily, it travels from word-of-mouth. While the internet is a high-speed line where information is quickly being sent, it can be surprisingly slow at reaching certain forums or sites than others. Also, besides Bronies talking about it, there aren't that many who are, and most people don't care to listen to Bronies anyway because they are annoyed with the Bronies spreading their fandom over all reaches of the internet.
5. Recently Released:
According to the people involved, they released it on January 20th (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/257527888/bronycon-the-documentary/posts). At the time of this post, it is Feb 9th 2013. That means it has only been out for 20 days. It isn't very surprising that their sales are down when you have produced a niche product to a group of people where only a tiny percent want and can buy it, and where it takes at least some time before the information spreads to all corners of the internet.
The documentary itself is the problem. The reason is that documentaries don't sell well. Yes, some do, but the rule of thumb is to assume you will break even or make a little more than your budget. The reason Documentaries do poorly is do to the simple fact that people don't find them as interesting as movies. Even a B-Movie will do better than a documentary because it will likely have so-bad it's good moments. Another problem is that documentaries usually don't get commercials asking people to see it, unless they have the backing from a TV station. One example would be if someone made a documentary about animals and they have the backing from the Animal Planet.
7. Poor Reviews:
On Equestria Daily, at least, people who had seen the documentary felt that it wasn't worth buying. They said that it was not that good and others said that they have read reviews that said it was lukewarm at best. The point is that the reviews stating it isn't that good and telling people to avoid it is likely causing some people to change their mind about buying it. And, they have every right in doing so. People are allowed to express their opinion. If they feel that it isn't worth buying, then they are allowed to state that. If the documentary was better, then the people who saw it would give a more positive review. A more positive review might translate into more profit. It is really the fault of the documentary being mediocre that is causing it to get poor reviews.
Oddly enough, the documentary has competition. It has competition from news stations that give neutral to positive reactions to the Brony community. It has competition from fan-made Brony documentaries, and from presentations online and even word-of-mouth about the Brony community. The problem is that the documentary's main purpose is to inform the viewer about who Bronies are. However, because of cheaper and quicker ways in getting this information, the documentary must fight to prove that it is worth buying. Another problem is that it was created to show Bronies in a positive light because the news was showing them in the negative light up to that point, but because of the more neutral and positive articles about Bronies, it makes the reason it was made into a moot point.
However, despite these problems, there might be a few solutions that might help curb the problems.
1. Public Knowledge:
One way to help the sale of it is to get more people knowing about it. Find a way for everyone to find out about it more easily. Equestria Daily and word-of-mouth are fine, but it will take a while before money is made. It will be hard to get this to become public knowledge that everyone knows about it, but it needs to be done in order to help the product.
2. Give it Time:
It is likely that because it was recently released, that not many people know about it. Give it some time, most likely a few months, and some profit might be made.
3. Drop the Price:
This is a classical Supply-and-Demand problem. The Demand is low so the price needs to be low. However, while the price is only 13 dollars, it is not low enough for the consumer to pay for it. The people who made the documentary can't keep to their price of 13 dollars and expect profit if the consumer doesn't feel it is worth that price. It is poor business practice to stick to a price when no one is willing to pay it. A drop from 13 dollars to an amount that Bronies agree on is in order.
4. Different from competition:
The last way for it to try and make money is to show how their product is better than their competition. If they can show that it is worth paying money for it, then they might have some success for it.
Of course, it's possible that none of these solutions work and someone will have to take a lost. Regardless, hopefully this gets people thinking about whether or not piracy is the main culprit behind all of this. It might be or it might not be.
Dusty: And here's a couple of my thoughts. There's a whole combination of reasons why it isn't really selling, for one it only appeals to Bronies. If you're outside the fandom you wouldn't care about this, but us vain Bronies love seeing about ourselves. But there are a lot of us that don't like this sort of thing, I personally hated the idea from the get go. Then when you take into consideration the people who are interested, most of them are probably proficient in the ways of the internet and could easily find a free copy to watch online. So I'd say this was doomed from the start.