It’s been half a month since the cultural sector in Bulgaria was put on hold – theaters, cinemas and concert halls are closed. It’s a tough situation for the culture sector, and especially for independent artists and performers, who estimate the losses at €3.5M due to canceled performances. And while centralized support measures may take long, there is already a potential solution coming from the tech ecosystem – a new pay-per-view online platform that allows artists to continue working and their fans to support them.
“The idea of FanStream was indeed born several years ago when we wanted to create a digital hub for standup comedians. End of 2019 we decided to go all-in and this week we are launching it with some unique content and, of course, more to come. Coincidentally, the current situation with the coronavirus outbreak and the force major circumstances for the culture sector, make the project even more necessary than we expected it to be,” explains co-founder Stoyan Nedin.
FanStream is like a digital video library for independent cinema and theater, designed to allow performers to gain additional revenue directly from their fanbase. They are also the ones that set the prices and the platform itself takes a cut from the turnover. FanStream launches with two productions of well-known Bulgarian actors – a singe spectacle by Mario Kurkinski and a movie by Kamen Donev.
“We want to give the authors a financial incentive to invest time and resources in creating quality content. Instead of broadcasting on social media and gaining small ad revenues insufficient to even cover the costs, these people can now monetize their work and fan base in a more reasonable and sustainable way. Basically, if many people love what you create, you can make money from it.” says Nedin.
“Not least, this gives Bulgarian who live all over the world the opportunity to fall into the magic of the theater!” says Marius Kurkinski. For Kamen Donev, the importance of such a platform to the culture sector doesn’t require a comment. Well, except for this one: “The polyurethane pipes create basic resistance required to overcome the critical minimum.” (and because we didn’t want to ruin in with translations – “Полиуретановите тръби съсздават базисно съпротивление за преодоляване на критизния минимум.” – ed.n.)
Niche streaming service
Co-founders Stoyan Nedin and Dimitar Sharkov, also the CEO and the CTO of the software development company Nexpur, came up with the concept already in 2013, but back then it was focused on standup comedy. Last year, they decided to restart the project and the potential to support the cultural sector at a tough moment and give fans and audiences access to a cultural program is right on time.
Starting with theater and cinema, Nedin and Sharkov are planning to soon add more categories like concerts, courses, events, conferences, standup comedy shows, and why not – gaming tournaments. There are options for both live-streaming and on-demand video.
As FanStream’s initial idea is to give independent “stars” large fanbase access to additional revenue streams, it will serve as a platform where anyone who has passed the quality bar can offer content. On the website, there’s an application form, and the pre-selection is done by FanStream’s team of five. The team is also expecting to grow the user base quite quickly thanks to the already established fan bases of the authors.
“We will launch the service for the DACH and the English speaking markets in the next four weeks too,” he says. Finding partners with access to high-quality content and performers is part of the expansion strategy. According to the co-founders, the new streaming service is not a competitor to any of the on-demand entertainment streaming platforms on the market like Netflix, for example, as they expect the typical user to purchase once a month from their favorite performer, and not use it for afterwork evening entertainment. Also, the pay-per-view business model is quite different from the subscription one.
“I think this is a great potential for the sector. We made sure that the streaming service and its servers are very stable so the content could be watched all over the world too,” says Nedin. The whole development of the project so far has been self-funded, but Nedin and Sharkov may soon be open for strategic investors to expedite the international expansion.
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