Interviews

JTS.TV CEO Carter Mason Talks Web Series, Revenue Streams And More

Carter Mason

JTS.TV is a web series portal that describes itself as a home for “Just the Story” which means no ads anywhere on the site or videos. Through e-mail correspondence, TVSource Magazine Magazine talked with co-founder and CEO Carter Mason about web series, alternative revenue streams, and much more.

Carter MasonJTS.TV is a web series portal that describes itself as a home for “Just the Story” which means no ads anywhere on the site or videos. Through e-mail correspondence, TVSource Magazine Magazine talked with co-founder and CEO Carter Mason about web series, alternative revenue streams, and much more.

TVSource Magazine : What inspired you to create your own video service, and why make it subscription-based instead of ads?
Carter: As a content creator myself but also a business person, I did not see a sustainable financial model for the TV-quality content being produced. The only option I saw was being backed by a brand, but that really gives up some control of the content in some situations. In talking to friends and clients (I have a background working with the business and legal side of filmmaking), I began to see the need for quality content receiving fare revenue. Internet ads, simply put, do not pay enough to sustain TV-quality content, even in short-form.

If fans want to see TV-quality content from independent creators, a subscription model without ads presents a win-win. Fans don’t have to watch uber-annoying ads they really don’t like anyways, and content creators get paid royalties more in sync with broadcast and cable TV for each view.

TVSource Magazine: Do you think an online subscription-based policy prevents piracy? Why?
Carter: Yes and no. Here’s the deal: When you provide people a way to pay for content the way they want it, many people will choose to pay. $3.99 per month is very little to spend for enjoying content without ads and supporting independent creators at the same time. The problem is cable companies and networks are not wanting to provide content the way people want to pay for their content. Many people only keep their cable subscription to have access to HBO and Showtime shows as they are released. If you could choose networks a la carte, very few people would purchase a full cable package.

JTS.TV seeks to be one of the first, if not the first, true premium independent TV network which you do not need a cable subscription to have. We are working hard to roll out more phases of our programming, and we have some very exciting news to announce soon. You can already watch us on TV sets if you have an Apple TV and iOS device, or if you’re  a geek like me and can easily run your computer to your TV set with an HDMI cable. In the next two months, that will be much easier even for the technically challenged among us.

So, to circle back around, providing people access to networks without a cable subscription, as well as reasonable on-demand purchasing services, will go further to prevent piracy than and DRM or new legislation. Once people had the opportunity to pay for individual songs and albums on iTunes and Amazon, many people quit pirating music. The same thing needs to happen for video content. Give the people a way to pay for it and consume video content the way they want to, and the only people pirating will be the people too cheap to pay for content anyway.

TVSource Magazine: Would you reject a branded show from your network? Is product placement different from regular ads on a creative level?
Carter: We’ve talked about branded entertainment frequently. Our standard has nothing to do with a brand’s products being featured, but we will not have ads within our content. HBO and Showtime shows have plenty of product placement, so as long as the series is not a glorified advertisement, we’d be happy to look at it. Our standard in a nutshell is two-fold: If someone saw the show playing on a TV set, would they just see it as TV? Meaning, is the quality of production in line with broadcast and cable shows? Second, is it a quality story. If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then we would look and make sure there’s no “advertising” contained in episodes we release. There are a lot of branded shows which were backed by brands only to be associated with the quality content. I’ve viewed a few, and we’ve considered them. We will consider more in the future.

TVSource Magazine: What do you think is the biggest problem web series have in finding audiences?
Carter: There’s too many bad shows out there with poor production value and that don’t tell a great story. I think it’s great you can make whatever you want and put it on the web, but the fact is, you can make whatever you want and put it on the web… it doesn’t have to be good. Add on the fact that advertising runs along with these shows, and you are basically asking a mainstream audience to watch ad after ad to get bad show after bad show to find the rare gem.

Although we haven’t used the term a lot, it does apply: curation. JTS.TV by having high quality standards only releases shows which meet the two quality standards I mentioned previously. By doing so, subscribers know that not only do they get a better viewing experience without ads, every show on our network is worth a chance. And if you don’t like a show, at least you didn’t have to sit through an ad to get to it.

TVSource Magazine: Have you found that shows with an established audience from a first season brings its audience to your platform? Or does it have to build a new audience?
Carter: Well, Breaking Point did pretty well at bringing new subscribers in to see season 2, but it’s really our only example of a show which already had seasons out and then had an initial release of a subsequent season exclusive to JTS.TV.

We’re working on some exclusive deals with other shows for their next season(s), because we believe that fans will want to see the show without ads AND provide better support for shows they have already come to love.

I think if fans really knew how little shows make for the time they spend watching an ad to get to an episode, they’d flock to networks like ours. I know what shows make for even millions of views, and I will tell you right now, it’s not enough to pay a professional crew their fare wages. And that’s with millions of views. Most shows are in the thousands.

TVSource Magazine: You want JTS to feature more than just series and serial content. Does this include short films and features, or did you have something else in mind?
Carter: We have some announcements regarding new content coming soon. But if you consider we openly talk about being a premium TV network like HBO and Showtime with the key differences being we’re all independent content and no cable subscription required, you can probably get a pretty good idea of where we’re going ;)

TVSource Magazine: Do you approach content creators about featuring their work on JTS, or do they approach you? Is there a standard of quality to be met before JTS will take a work on?
Carter: It’s a bit of both. At the beginning, we did all the reaching out, because nobody really knew what we were up to. Now, we get submissions frequently through our Contact page, although we don’t officially have a submission policy in place. To be honest, most of what gets submitted do not meet our quality standards, which I’ve referenced in answer to previous questions.

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  • JTS is one of the evolutionary steps of the New Digital Media exploding across the internet. Youtube is the past, like silent movies when the talking pictures arrived. To make quality digital media requires money. Current advertising models do not achieve the levels of financing required nor does it lend well to profitability. A subscription site is one step into the future where people that want to support new media can pay a little for what they like and avoid annoying ads. At the same time, the creator has more control of the project.

    A single source, or online “network” like JTS, also allows viewers an opportunity to view a variety of media at once without visiting multiple channels. It insures that they will not need worry about virus downloads (like pirated media) or the wrath of corporate industry groups fighting piracy.

    One source also allows all creators to merge their marketing campaigns to extend their audience. This saves on cost and increases revenue. As this idea develops, and JTS grows, we may see more group sites.

    Although, I believe that this model will change in the near future, it is a great leap forward for today!

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