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SXSW: John Sloss Urges Filmmakers to Demand VOD Numbers

SXSW: John Sloss Urges Filmmakers to Demand VOD Numbers

Late last year, producer John Sloss called upon other distributors to release their VOD numbers. Unfortunately, aside from Sloss’ own companies (FilmBuff and PDA) releasing numbers for “Spark: A Burning Man Story” (in conjunction with Paladin) and “Escape from Tomorrow” and Radius-TWC providing some data related to “Man of Tai Chi,” no other distributors shared information with the new statistic, which Sloss dubbed “Multi-Screen Gross.”

Yesterday on a panel at SXSW, Sloss once again called on distributors to release the numbers, and also urged filmmakers to demand them.

“If you have the leverage, you can put it in your contract,” Sloss, Founder of Cinetic, LawCo, and FilmBuff told Indiewire. “Just say ‘you have to tell me on Monday morning what the VOD numbers are because you have them,’ but most people don’t prioritize that or have that leverage.”

Unlike theatrical box office reporting, film distributors, cable companies and other video viewing platforms don’t report viewership in a uniform and transparent way, leaving filmmakers and the industry without any benchmarks for where audiences are engaging with their content. 

As far as Cinetic, Sloss said, “we’re kind of libertarian about this stuff. I would love full transparency about everything. The Multi-Screen Gross was a very simple undertaking…it made perfect sense to create a new statistic to be the equivalent of theatrical gross.”

Janet Brown, FilmBuff CEO added: “How difficult is it for everybody to share those numbers? At FilmBuff, we put our foot forward and shared those numbers. It’s meant to be a tool for you guys.”

Brown said they shared the VOD numbers on “Escape From Tomorrow” even though they weren’t anything to crow about. “They were solid, decent. We’re proud, but it’s not like we have the biggest number in the room,” she said.

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Mookie Russell

This is a great idea but VOD companies have no incentive to report publicly and I don't see it happening anytime soon. Producers should at least demand copies of ACTUAL statements from VOD companies when they make distribution deals, otherwise there's absolutely no way for them to know if they are being paid their proper percentage of sales. Without a public reporting system like theatrical box office producers are at the mercy of distributors and we all know that's a BAD idea! Sadly this is an industry where dishonesty and outright stealing is the norm, not the exception.


Love John Sloss and YES we need the numbers because like it or not DVD is dead and VOD numbers are what we now have to pitch to our investors as a revenue source on how they are going to get THEIR money back when they invest in our Indie Films. If you are using DVD numbers from 4-5 years ago in your business plan to investors you are not being truthful to them. You must have this hybrid of revenue streams to show them and VOD is bigger every day. Thanks again John for fighting this fight.

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