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Chill Direct aims to spur self-distribution biz

Vid site inspired by Louis C.K. digital comedy special

A fleet of comedians and filmmakers are hoping to replicate the direct-to-consumer model popularized by Louis C.K. via a new product enabling self-service digital distribution.

Chill, a social-video platform whose backers include WME, has rounded up unreleased standup performances and films aiming for paying auds outside traditional outlets across devices. The inaugural slate includes work from comedian Maria Bamford and actor-director Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”).

Chill Direct allows artists to create a virtual storefront on its platform, where they can price their own content and retain ownership of intellectual property. Service covers everything from uploading of longform video to real-time data tracking viewership.

The service was inspired in part by Louis C.K., who drew notice in June for selling a standup special to fans through his website, a model that has been since used by other top comics including Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari.

“We were watching the Louis C.K. one-off in awe and looked at the details of what he did and its costs,” said Brian Norgard, founder of Chill. “We wanted to see from a product designers’ perspective what we could do if we could take that cost to practically nothing.”

Chill Direct’s business model dictates a 70/30 split of all revenues derived from content, with the majority of coin going to the creator. Select artists Chill is particularly interested in working with receive some funding, but that won’t be made available to all who use the service.

Chill will continue to operate as a video-sharing hub, enabling content consumption in a social-driven environment more reminiscent of Pinterest than YouTube. The company will look to leverage activity to drive eyeballs to Chill Direct, which can also be integrated with an artist’s social-media presence.

Chill Direct is also exploring ties with leading digital distributors, including Netflix, that would make content on its platform available for consumption elsewhere.

While Chill Direct will make content available for purchase on a nonexclusive basis, it will have an exclusive first window on some content including “The New Kind,” an animated sci-fi series from writer-director Peter Hyoguchi that was funded via Kickstarter and features the work of 200 artists in 29 countries.

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