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July 23 2008

Apparently the Doctor is making Horrible amounts of cash! A blogger estimates the revenue at $2.6 million. Why on earth would Joss ever go back to regular television?

So is a million downloads at iTunes a real number, or just speculation? Because that would be pretty awesome, if true!
Alas, this has been posted, Haunt. It might've scrolled off, but I just read that TVSquad article too and it actually links back to the previous thread here. :)
Great! Artists once again cut out the middle man...great things can only happen from this.
Well, we know it's filled the top three slots in the iTunes store. If we know how many downloads that takes on average, i.e. the number of downloads a show, any show, got when it was in the top position, then we'd have a fair estimate for Dr. Horrible.
Yeah, the numbers here are from the previously linked article, which is speculation on what it would *need* to do, not even speculation on what it *has* done.
If I'm not mistaken that earlier post linked to the Jeffrey McManus article, NOT the TVSquad article. Nitpicking I suppose, but... *shrug*

But seriously, there have only been ten BILLION Horrible links in the last week so I'd readily acknowledge that I'm just the slightest bit lost in the maelstrom.
I'd be interested in seeing some real numbers over the speculated numbers. Looking forward to the Soundtrack and the DVD. No apple or AOL account, so I can't do the iTunes thing :(
There were about a million views of Act 1 at Dr. Horrible, according to Joss. Another million all told for the final two acts. This includes international viewers. Probably far less than a million people watched all three episodes, considering how many people watched and re-watched the acts. I'd bet the majority of them didn't and won't buy the iTunes, some because they're not U.S. citizens, some because once (or two or three)for free was enough.

Does anyone know how many people it would take to reach the number one position at iTunes? I find it hard to believe that the daily number of people buying tv episodes is all that high. After all, you can watch them for free at Hulu or other places. Most people use iTunes to buy, you know, tunes, no?

All this to say that Joss shouldn't quit his day job at this point.

[ edited by shambleau on 2008-07-24 03:03 ]
Can someone clarify something for me? 'Cause I'm finding this a little confusing (I'm sleepy, so give me a break)...

This 2,6 millions is the profit that WILL happen WHEN/IF it gets 1 million downloads, right? Or is it actually saying that there's already 1 million downloads, and that's the profit so far?

[ edited by maxsummers on 2008-07-24 02:21 ]
Thanks shambleu! =]
I wonder if Joss, to prove a point, will only allow this to be distributed on DVD and Internet? It's the perfect length for an hour on TV, but would that defeat the purpose? And what about on airplanes? I was thinking about this in the shower this morning, to keep my mind off of Felicia Day.

ETA: Good to see you, JadeHand!

[ edited by Succatash on 2008-07-24 03:44 ]
Well, the problem I saw in the math analysis article was that the author said each episode was $3.99 when it was the season pass that was $3.99 and the individual ones were $1.99. So if his reasoning was off...then there's no way that much money was made.
This is all speculation folks. A million downloads from iTunes is an ENORMOUS number.
I don't know about TV shows, but iTunes sells about a billion songs every 150 days, iirc. Dr. Horrible was a banner item on there, so that's advertising in itself. A lot of people would've downloaded it on iTunes and not viewed it on the at all, since it's better quality on iTunes anyway. This certainly counts for people re-watching it too.

It still isn't up on international iTunes stores yet either (aside from Canada), they say they're working on it, but with Comic-Con, I don't know how much progress they'll be making in the immediate future.
Are these numbers any more compelling? I dunno... I don't really do numbers.
4 million assumed that one million people downloaded the season pass. At 1.99 per, if half a million downloaded each act individually, it would be about 2.685 million after Jobs took his tithe.
Nwever mind, I found it ;0
Shallow end! ME! MINE!

[ edited by Ed R on 2008-07-24 04:15 ]
Also, sometimes more than one person was watching a computer screen at a time when it played. So that partly compensates for the number of times it was rewatched. (One time I watched it was with 2 other people)
Haunt, those numbers are impressive, but those are the free viewings that actually cost Mutant Enemy money and is basically the promotion expense that the article you link to says they didn't have(assuming they had to pay Hulu to host the thing). The only internet numbers that will matter at the end of the day is iTunes, which I contend will be a drop in the bucket compared to DVD.
which I contend will be a drop in the bucket compared to DVD.

I agree. A lot of people don't want to buy the itunes, but are going to buy the dvd. A lot of people CAN'T buy the itunes because of the international thing, but will buy the dvd. And then, add the people who had bought the itunes, and still are going to buy the dvd.
I haven't, and won't, but from iTunes because I hate Apple (And live outside the US) but I'll be first in line for the DVD.

Act One: 1,149,846 streams
Act Two: 625,552 streams
Act Three: 427,785 streams

Is the drop off due to the figures not being the final ones as the article mentions? Or did a lot of people not like it and not bother watching the rest? Or did people keep watching the first episode again and again even after the others were online? Or is it due to people loving the first episode and going straight to buying the season pass from iTunes?
Without the daily figures, and the number of unique hits, the figures could mean anything.

[ edited by zz9 on 2008-07-24 04:42 ]
I'll be buying the DVD on the (hopefully soon) day it comes out for sure, but I didn't download it from iTunes because I have issues with their DRM.

I would guess that Act I has higher numbers in that report because it was available longer than the other two were. I know I watched it at least once every day that it was available.
Was unable to get free site to load (too much traffic??), knew I was going to watch all 3 episodes, so I got the iTunes season pass. (Like Apple, inside US.)
I think some of the reasons act I has higher numbers are:

1- Some people watched ACT I and didn't like it (it's sad, but true... not everyone is ready for our Purple world.)

2- Watched ACT I, liked it, and bought the season pass on itunes.

3- Watched ACT I, liked it, but for loading troubles, download illegally.

4- ACT I stayed available for more time. (A lot of people might have missed ACT II and III because of that... you know, not everyone if obsessed like us)
Let's not forget that there were more people involved in this than the principal actors, Joss and the other parties who wrote this piece.
There were also production crew, including caterers, make up, costuming, gaffers, etc. And let us not forget the post production crew, which includes musicians, mixers, editing and other post like people at Zoic who, I believe I read somewhere, agreed to forgo payment until the project started to make money.
2.6 million dollars is peanuts when you factor in all of the people involved.
This was a labour of love, but these people were also working on this during a strike.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking that if there is some sort of profit, there are some people who will be compensated for their work.

Oh, and by the way, some of you Apple haters: You don't pay for iTunes. iTunes is FREE.
I got it before I even had an iPod just so I could subscribe and listen to podcasts. 99.9% of them also being FREE.
I don't have a video iPod...yet...but I bought the Season Pass to Dr. Horrible. It will be the first thing I download onto my 3rd Gen Nano (or refurbished Classic) when I do buy one.
It's too early to get "horribly" crazy about this, but .... As I've posted on another thread, Joss is uniquely situated to make a go of this. His fan base is huge and hungry for regular trips to the Whedonverse. One million people at $5/episode is $5 million. There has to be a viable business model in there somewhere.

The network suits have long claimed Joss wasn't popular enough to make money. "Dr. Horrible" seems poised to put a stake in the heart of such nonsense. He just needed a way to connect to his core audience. I've got a feeling Joss's next independent project will not have much trouble finding financing. Hopefully, within a few years it's bye, bye decrepit Hollywood system, adios venal TV networks, and hello Mutant Enemy mega Web/DVD video enterprises.
AmazonGirl: I would suspect that the majority, if not all of the crew (other than writers, director, producer) did already receive some compensation.
Go Go Micro-Moguls!!!
2.6 million dollars is peanuts when you factor in all of the people involved.

Don't forget about the internet bandwith, it's expensive! The 3 acts together @ 1 million downloaders equals 250+ TERABYTE of data, mindboggeling...
Josh shouldn't go back to TV! But he is though, when Dollhouse comes out with Elisa.
Arrrgh! The maths it hurts! But is also fun to contemplate. Sometime's numbers speak louder than words. I dare say sometime soon, we'll find out about numbers a bit more. Plus, since that magical date of the 29th being just a silly number plucked out of the air by some journalist, and being completely untrue, there is waaaay more time to download it on iTunes than originally people thought, which means international stores should have it soon, which hopefully means in the next week or so.
Krusher, I think a lot of people are forgetting that Mutant Enemy had to pay for that. That was some serious bandwidth and I bet it was not included in the "low 6 figures" number Joss has been reported as mentioning.
The low 6 figures *might* have included the initial costs for setting up the hosting, but considering all the changes that had to be made during day 1, you can bet that bill went up.
Meh. You can set up a massively elastically scalable web site on a cloud like Amazon EC2 for peanuts these days. The streaming costs for the video were most likely borne by Hulu. Hulu likely cracked a deal in return for the exposure to their site from the huge draw. Just my opinion.
I'm sure it didn't hurt that Hulu is a joint effort between Fox and Universal, but I don't think for a second that they got that hosting for free. Not a chance.
There's also a difference between the streaming provided by hulu and the basic web hosting. Without having any idea how Hulu is actually setup, let's assume the feed is at an offsite location and it's analogous to embedding a youtube video. It was still the servers that were brought down. (It's entirely possible whatever servers run Hulu were perfectly functioning, but with the server down, you couldn't access the feed.)

So that still means the hosting plan underestimated traffic and bandwidth needs, which means they still had to increase hosting not provided by Hulu. Since Dr Horrible is hosted by ITS ( I'm pretty certain the hosting itself is not done by Hulu, Fox, or Universal. So, we're back to the Whedon clan paying for hosting.

And frankly, considering the shows Hulu does regularily stream I don't think they needed the exposure of Dr. Horrible to help them out. *Maybe* Joss had some favour he called in to use it. More likely they paid for the service.
I hate math. All I know is, I bought the season pass, I'll buy the soundtrack, and I'll buy the DVD. And I'm more than happy to be sending that money Joss' way (as well as Apple's, which I happen to love and will soon be working for... muahahaha)!
I've tweaked the entry slightly to use that $2.6 is a guestimate (Whedonesque occasionally gets quoted for truth elsewhere).
Well, I (as someone who lives outside of the US) did something slightly not-too-legal so I could legally download 'Dr. Horrible' from iTunes. Strange times.
Even when you figure out how many people paid how much on iTunes, you also have to figure in that Apple gets a substantial percentage of all sales, and subtract that. Still, it's a nice chunk of change.

Some of the extra viewings of Episode One also would have been people who wanted to watch it again to refresh their memory before watching Episode Two, and then watch all three together when the final episode was available.
"4- ACT I stayed available for more time. (A lot of people might have missed ACT II and III because of that... you know, not everyone if obsessed like us) "

Absolutely. I have a friend who loved Firefly and is not getting into Buffy. I bugged him to watch this but he watched on the last day. He caught the first two acts (and loved them) but just missed Act 3. And the same thing happened with my sister (a big Whedon fan) who only caught Act 1. So all this partially explains the drop-off in numbers.

But I think the biggest factor is the number of times people rewatched the first (and the second but less so) while waiting for the later acts.
Nice as it'd be to assume Joss is gonna rake it in, right now that's all it is, an assumption. There're just too many variables we don't know to make this worthwhile, except as a fun exercise in speculation. Drawing solid conclusions from it this early is pointless IMO, building Jossian "TV" empires even moreso ;).

Extrapolating from downloads to purchases seems pretty dodgy (we know for a cast-iron fact that the same people watched it multiple times because we've all talked about how great it still is on the nth viewing - personally I don't buy "group viewings" offsetting that to any significant extent), we don't know how many downloads a number 1 iTunes title actually receives (we've seen in the past that titles can move up and down on e.g. Amazon charts by selling relatively few units) and we don't know all the costs (e.g. bandwidth, which, some opinions aside, isn't just "there", it's an internet commodity - though admittedly not massively expensive thesedays - or wages/profit points).

I'd be very surprised if Dr H doesn't make a profit, whether it'll be gajillions once the dust's settled I doubt. And as Joss has said re: 'Dollhouse', he likes to play with the "big toys" too and when it comes to huge sets, bigger casts, amazing effects etc. even if the entire $2.6 mill went into Joss' pocket for future enterprises, that'd still only pay for one episode of a weekly network TV show.
"Why on earth would Joss ever go back to regular television?"

The answer : yes this is still pocket change compared to what the stars on network tv can hope for and yes wss ;)
( wss could easily become the most frequently used term on Whedonesque, we should just consider it implied like IMO :)

The number I'm really curious about is the hardcore Whedon fans who are going to be the market for all the miscellaneous stuff and buy multiple copies of DVDs etc., based more on the number of Buffy/Angel comic books sold than anything else my current wag is somewhere around ~50000, does that make sense ?
I'm going to be a newbie and inquire what WSS stands for.
I'd be happy just to know that Joss and the gang broke even. Everything else is just gravy.
I'm going to be a newbie and inquire what WSS stands for.

Embarrassingly enough, it's "What Saje Said" Simon. And use without acknowledging the trademark might earn the release of zeitgeist's highly trained and half starved pack of legal hounds ;-).

(hey, I post so damn much, some of it has to stick right ? ;)
Well my shadier side is iffy on the trademark rights but considering the percentage of homeruns in Sajes postings, this expression could come in handy.
I better install the WSS Feed then.
I'll try and avoid pound signs in my posts then. And end all of them with a full stop ;).
As long as Sajes musings includes gems like "The next number is Penny's ghost singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"", a wss feed might be appropriate, a Nobel prize is not out of the question :)
I'm not sure there is one for "Random Bollocks". Apparently because Alfred Nobel's wife had an affair with an unpredictable testicle, read it on the internet ;-).

(ta though jpr ;)
I have a number of friends who are still using dial up (pause a moment as the mind boggles) who tried to watch Act I but found it wouldn't load properly, so they didn't make any attempt to watch Act II or III; there were probably a lot of people in that situation. So that number of people who viewed (or tried to view) Act I actually might reflect the higher interest out there. These friends would probably buy the DVD themselves, but I already plan to get it for them as that proverbial stocking stuffer.
I know that a lot of fans here are planning to buy multiple copies, but that number will be affected by the price, I assume. jpr's 50,00 fans sounded about right to me as a conservative estimate of the base market for the DVD. So, if the DVD was priced at ten bucks, you've got a minimum of a half million gross, not counting multiple purchases. If it's twenty bucks, I think the fans will still buy at least one copy, so that would be a million or so. Out of that, you've got to pay all the costs mentioned above, plus shell out for dvd production and distribution.

Still, that should net a modest profit for everybody. If the dvd sales are double or triple that, which is more than possible, then the picture brightens considerably for all concerned. Unfortunately, unless Joss says something, actual numbers of dvds sold is generally treated like a state secret, so we may never know.
But... but what will happen when all those network executives have to sell their beachfront mansions 'cause they can no longer afford to stiff the creative geniuses who work for them?!? Somebody, please think of the greedy... er, um, children. Think of the children!
Saje said @ July 24, 10:14 CET:

even if the entire $2.6 mill went into Joss' pocket for future enterprises, that'd still only pay for one episode of a weekly network TV show.

In retrospect, that's about the average budget on a Dutch movie... Too much money goes into a black hole..
Hmm, maybe I should write that one-man-film idea I was considering, sort of a cross between The Blair Witch Project and The Hellstrom Chronicles with some From Beyond thrown in..........................
Cool. I just found a half page article in the german taz about the Dr. Horrible business model. For those not in the know, it's a very liberal, left leaning, independent newspaper available throughout the whole of Germany. The research they did looks fine, no glaring errors, and all in all the article is thoroughly complimentary and not giving away any spoilers at all. Not even the superhero/laundromat angle is mentioned.

The headline reads: "Way out of the crisis" and follows with: "The small series DR Horrible stands for a futuristic business model." They call NPH and NF up-and-coming actors and explain the distribution setup, mentioning worldwide streaming. Seemingly DR. Horrible is coming up on worldwide on iTUnes soon too. They conclude that DR Horrible shows that TV is possible without involving networks and a viable business model, since "observers assume the producer got his budget back a few times over"

Sorry for my literal translation.
Here's the link:

So, anybody heard anything about wolrwide distribution by iTunes?

Oh, and while I'm at it: here's another link to a german publication, the spiegel,1518,567458,00.html

To my eyes it looks less well researched and/or fact checked. for example: Penny is played by Felicia MAY! You didn't know? I didn't either. And they sound as if the Broadway adaption and sequels are a sure thing already. huh? But it mentions WHEDONESQUE, correctly spelled, too. YAY! :) At least they got that important fact right.

ETA: WOW, I didn't see this before. The Spiegel actually shows the ripoff of act II in FULL LENGTH on youtube. Isn't that illegal or something? With a terrible audio/video-discontinuity, too

[ edited by Harpy on 2008-07-25 02:02 ]

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