'Sanctuary': Serialized Horror/Sci-fi on a Grand Scale

Last week, every Film Flap post covered chapter-based shows that were specifically targeting an internet audience. This week, I came across yet another one, Sanctuary, with expensive production values, longer episodes, a pay-per-download model, and even an option to see High Definition versions of the show. It's just more evidence that this type of "programming" is a viable option for content producers.

The show seems to be of the X-files variety, as the show follows "the exploits of Dr. Helen Magnus as she seeks out all manner of terrifying and monstrous creatures." It sounds interesting, the trailer (seen above) looks great, and Sanctuary seems to fill another genre hole in the Serialized Webisode Sweepstakes, which is gaining in popularity. The cast is culled from other sci-fi shows, there are high quality effects (if a little video game-ish), and the website is well done.

The catch is that none of the 16-18 minute episodes are free, and cost at least two bucks a shot (the HD versions are $2.50). I'm tempted to buy one, but if I get hooked, then I'm going to have to watch them all (which is the idea), running me a total of $16. Five episodes are currently out, with three more to come. You can also purchase "bundles" at $6.99 for episodes 1-4, and I assume the next four will be available for the same. Logic would also state that the complete "first season" will be available at some time for even more savings. Another intriguing element to the downloads is that there are some unnamed "extras" that accompany them, but there is nothing indicating what they are.

I don't really like the PPV model, but it may work for these guys, based on the money they are obviously putting into this. If viewers think there is something of very high quality on the other end of the download, they may fork over two bones to try it. I know I'm tempted. Since snagging a new release on iTunes is about the same price ($10-15), this is a pretty fair deal considering you'll be getting a 2 1/2 show when all is said and done.

More information about Sanctuary can be found at the creator's blog, as well as a fan site. I wish there was some way to track how much they are making, but we'll just have to see if the show sticks around to find out if it is worth all the apparent money they are pouring into it.


Tari Akpodiete said…
I'm wondering what your specific objection to this revenue model might be? I think it is pretty smart to go right to the fans to get paid and/or funded.
Scott Eggleston said…
I think you're right! I obviously confused 'Pay Per View' with 'Purchase Each Episode' since PPV is more like a rental, which this is clearly not. You can buy each webisode for download, which is then yours to keep.

Most people (including myself) will not buy a movie they have never seen, which is why they rent. 'Sanctuary', however, turns that model on its head by selling chapters for half of a typical rental fee. The downside is you can't just pop it into your DVD player (although you could burn it if you know how), but the goal here is web viewing anyway.

Thanks for making me rethink this, Tari!