ebregman FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Evan B

from Austin

  • Activity

    • How we evaluate a show's performance (with a few words on RWBY Chibi, too)

      2 weeks ago

      ebregman Evan B

      Hi everyone, I’m back again with more thoughts on why we do what we do with our programming. It’s fun to write these and I’m really enjoying your thoughtful responses, so keep ‘em coming

      Today we announced the RWBY Chibi season 2 premiere date (May 13!), and that the series will be FIRST exclusive for 7 days before it becomes free-to-watch on RoosterTeeth.com and YouTube. For those who saw my previous post, this likely comes as no surprise. Chibi has stand-alone episodes, like Million Dollars But…, Sex Swing, and RTAA do, so there’s less concern about spoilers and breaking up a conversation in the community. I was also fascinated to see people respond to my last post saying that they now use the YouTube notifications system to tell them when there’s a new episode available on FIRST. Notifications are possible within our iOS and Android apps, but we’ve not developed the workflow to use them quite yet; you’ll likely start to see us play with those by the end of this year.

      To address the elephant in the room, our windowing on RWBY Chibi in no way reflects any decisions on how we'll window RWBY Volume 5. Check out my last post for more details as to why, but to sum it up: RWBY has a serialized narrative that drives conversation within our community, and although the vast majority of people who watch RWBY on our website are already logged-in FIRST members, that show does receive marginally more free-to-watch traffic than others. We’re still collecting data that will help make a decision about this, and we’ll keep you updated once we have a better idea of what the Fall will hold for us.

      We’ve also made a number of adjustments to our lineup lately, and I’ve seen conversations asking “what happened to that show?” or “this show is great but no one is watching it, please support it!” or “is this show coming back?” or “PLS RT MORE STRANGERHOOD” (ok, not a ton of that last one). That tells me it’s high time to give you some insight into how we judge a show’s performance and decide if it should be renewed or canceled. (If you want details on how we greenlight shows, check out Burnie’s vlog on the subject.) While I can’t talk through a ton of specific numbers here, I can give you a sense of our priorities.

      When we look at a show’s performance, we ask a lot of questions. First off, how many minutes of a show did we serve across all platforms, relative to our other shows? If you’ve ever posted anything on YouTube, you’ve likely seen this same “minutes watched” stat in YouTube’s analytics tab as well. The reason we all focus intently on it is because time is super valuable to our audience, and it has a clear, consistent definition. One minute is always 60 seconds (unless you distort gravity, but that’s generally not a concern for us). Compare that to a View, which has a completely different definition set by each platform that serves video. YouTube doesn’t tell us specifically what a view is, but it’s widely estimated that a YouTube view happens after someone watches 30 seconds of a video, with some exceptions. Facebook separates 10-second views and 3-second views. Other SVOD services define a view as the number of minutes of a video viewed by all subscribers divided by the total runtime of the video. So a view is relative to its definition; time is not. Views can be an indicator of minutes served when taken in context, but it’s pretty inconsistent and overly complex. It’s also really hard to compare the value of one show’s View to another, especially since our shows have widely varying run times.

      Another important indicator to us is engagement, which is a buzzword that’s partly data and partly totally subjective. It refers to all the interactive things people do with our content besides watching it. Did they comment on it? Share it? Use a modifier on our website? Is there a specific moment in an episode that people clearly responded to? A character? On the subjective side, what’s the general feeling of that engagement? People sometimes engage a lot with something they absolutely hate, but the internet can also just be troll-y sometimes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Is there something about the engagement that can help us make the show better?

      Last but certainly not least on the data side: did this show successfully serve a purpose for us? Is our community responding to it? Did it help us grow FIRST? Did it raise the overall profile and measurable audience of Rooster Teeth? If it’s a talk show, were we able to get ad sponsors excited enough about it that they’d support it? Is there something else we can do with this show on top of airing it on our own channels, like bring it to movie theaters, make an awesome, collector-worthy DVD, or create cool merch?

      There are other factors too, unrelated to data. Shows that are really hard to produce for some reason, regardless of how much they cost to make, tend to have a higher bar to hit if we’re going to keep making them; we say that these shows “cost more than money to make.” If there’s a central creative issue with a show that we’ve not quite figured out how to solve despite having a season of episodes to experiment on, we likely will want a clear way forward before we’re OK making more of them. We also try to find learnings from the things we can control that affect data, like the specific way we linked from a YouTube video back to FIRST, and how we windowed the content. If there’s something we know we can do better next time, that helps. And there’s always that ultimate intangible: do we even want to make any more of this show? If the people who work on it have run out of creative steam, it’s pretty tough to ask them to do it all again.

      All of that might help explain a few things some of you have noticed lately. Enjoy the Show and A Spot of Science (f.k.a. Let Me Clarify) have ended after their initial seasons. We tried airing a new episode of Enjoy the Show on The Know this past weekend to see if that might be a better home for a show in that vein, and so far we’re encouraged by the results. In both of those cases, we loved making the shows, but for good reasons you outlined in the comments, you didn’t respond to them as well as we had hoped. Same goes for Sex Swing: that was a ridiculously fun show to develop and work on, but we didn’t quite get it to where we needed to be on multiple levels, viewership included.

      The best part of Rooster Teeth is, we’re going to launch a ton more new shows this year. Every one of them will be a chance to find the next thing you guys will fall in love with. It’s inevitable that not everything will work, and in fact most of it won’t, but we love trying new things with you guys and making adjustments until we get it right.

    • How we Choose our Content Windows: A Friday Data Dump

      1 month ago

      ebregman Evan B

      Hi friends, happy almost Easter and Passover!

      I introduced myself back in June when I joined, but in case you missed that – hey there, I’m Evan, and I lead the Programming department at RT.

      Among other things, my job is to be part of the group that discusses and decides how we should release and window our content. My perspective on this is based on a lot of experience making stuff for the web and releasing it in different ways, keeping up with how platforms like YouTube and Facebook are changing, and, most of all, data about how all of you watch and interact with our content. With all the talk around windowing lately, I wanted to open up some of what goes into these decisions.

      First off, here’s a fact: FIRST memberships are what enable us to make content. That’s been true since the Sponsor program began, and it might be even more true now, when making content is just one of the many things we do. Content drives conversation within our community, and for that reason, even if you can watch our content elsewhere, we want a FIRST membership to be the absolute best way for our community to watch and gather around our shows. You’ve likely heard Burnie already talk about how we’re also working on some amazing changes to the platform that I know will further help us achieve that goal.

      Another fact: More than 95% of people who watch content on RoosterTeeth.com are already logged-in FIRST members, and that number is increasing. Two notable exceptions are Red vs. Blue and RWBY, when we see a lot more people taking advantage of a free-to-watch window on our site. But even those two shows are viewed mostly by FIRST members on RoosterTeeth.com. The trend is clear: if you watch our shows for free, you overwhelmingly do it elsewhere (and we’re totally fine with that!).

      Not surprisingly, FIRST members also watch a lot more content on our site than non-members. Members have told us over and over again that exclusive content in particular is the biggest reason why they join, and why they keep their memberships. The 24-hour early access to shows, RT Store discount, no ads, and early access to tickets are all awesome (and they’re not going anywhere), but it’s the exclusive shows that make it worthwhile to join.

      All that in mind, it’s my job to make sure we always have amazing shows to watch on FIRST, and that we launch new shows frequently. We know that your appetite to consume new content on FIRST has already outpaced our ability to make it. Every time we premiere another FIRST-exclusive show, it’s among the most-watched content on our website. We hear you when you tell us that we make so many shows that it’s hard to keep up, but WOW, do you watch it all.

      There are two ways we can address this. Obviously the most important way is to make a lot of new FIRST-exclusive shows, which we are definitely doing. Most of those shows (like Day 5 and Crunch Time) take a lot of time to develop, write, produce, edit, and release, especially if we want them to live up to our standards. You’re going to start seeing more and more FIRST-exclusive episodic shows – and even original movies – coming up very soon, even while we continue to make more and more shows you can still watch completely for free. Just to illustrate this, here’s a graph comparing how many minutes of content we produced and published across all our channels for the last two years.


      Yes, we plan to publish ~140,000 total minutes of content this year, and the vast majority will be totally free to watch.

      But we can’t (and won’t) support FIRST by only making new FIRST-exclusive shows. Not only would that be unfair to the many of you who watch our shows for free, it’s also impossible to do unless we have unlimited funds (which we don’t). What’s more, if we do it right, our free-to-watch shows can help us grow FIRST and afford to make more shows.

      We will never, EVER, take something free away from you. If a show has always had a free-to-watch window, it will always become free to watch; however, we will be experimental and try new things to make sure the free-to-watch window always supports FIRST as best it can. Decisions around windowing will always be guided by community and data.

      With all this in mind, in January of this year we started experimenting with a 7-day windowing strategy, starting with RTAA. Immediately, some amazing things happened: YouTube traffic didn’t change, the amount of traffic that the YouTube videos were driving to RoosterTeeth.com tripled, and RTAA episodes suddenly became some of the most-watched content on our site. Turns out you like watching RTAA on RoosterTeeth.com – you just couldn’t find it very well before!

      Next, we tried the 7-day FIRST window with our new show Sex Swing. Results were consistent, even with a brand-new show that wasn’t getting the major YouTube views RTAA gets every week.

      We knew Million Dollars, But... and Red vs. Blue were our next tests, and we also knew RvB in particular would be different since the narrative is serialized, and because Red vs. Blue gets a lot more viewership on RoosterTeeth.com from non-FIRST-members compared to other shows. This led to conversations over the past few months, which included discussions about how this was received last year when we tried to do it with RWBY. In the end, we decided to do what we’ve done so many times: try it, monitor it, and learn from it.

      We are so thankful for our RT Family, and for the community dynamic that made us what we are today. But we realize we’ll sometimes have to make choices that will not always be 100% well-received. Even as we try things that we know might change the community dynamic, we will do everything we can to protect the community while also balancing the needs of our growing business.

      You’ve supported us since the beginning, and we know you’ll help us out and be patient when we try new things, even when they’re not easy for any of us. Like any good relationship, the most important thing we can do is communicate clearly. I hope this was interesting to even a few of you, and feel free to ask questions in the comments - I’ll answer as many as I can!

    • Hello, world!

      11 months ago

      ebregman Evan B

      Hey everyone,

      I’m Evan, and I just started as Director of Programming here at RTHQ (can I call it that?). I’m ridiculously excited to be working here, and I thought it was time to introduce myself to you guys.

      A little about me: I just moved to Austin from Los Angeles, along with my wife and our dog. Digital media is my passion and always has been – I graduated from a program at USC that was all about interactive video, and as a side note we were definitely watching RvB! Then I worked at NBC for a bit before working in the digital division for the parent company of CollegeHumor, and then for the company that makes YouTube Rewind. All along the way I was making web videos, like this one, and this one (that’s me as Rich Uncle Pennybags).

      My challenge here is to make sure all the different platforms where we distribute content are working together perfectly, telling the Rooster Teeth story across all our different shows and channels and making sure you can discover it and enjoy it as easily as possible. Some of my work will be visible to you and some of it less so, but overall, we’re still going to make everything you’re used to seeing from us, and it’s all going to keep expanding. I’ll keep you updated along the way!

      That’s all for now. Leave a comment and I’ll try to respond throughout the day, but I’m still running around just meeting everyone who works here!


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  • Comments (1)

    • JohnJoe

      1 month ago

      I appreciate you laying out exactly what the thought process was for extending the wait period 7 days instead of the 24 hour one that we have enjoyed. You seem like a very cool dude, and even though it is a little late, taking the time to address it is very much appreciated.

      I would love if you guys would keep narrative shows like RvB and RWBY at a 24 hour exclusive to FIRST members, not only to because they are story-driven, but because they have always been available for everyone(mostly).

      Thank you again for cutting out the bullshit and telling us why you guys did what you did, and if you do listen to us, I will be able to purchase a FIRST membership feeling like I am helping out my favorite community- driven company, rather than feeling like buying one is the way to watch my favorite shows without being a week behind.

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