Three disjointed thoughts on Richard Armitage and Berlin Station promotion

  1. We were all saying we couldn’t believe the episodes were released so soon and this had to be a mistake. Given what has been happening lately — geoblocks appearing where none were earlier — I wonder if the “mistake” was failure to place geoblocks where they were intended to go from the very beginning.
  2. What happens when an actor, not a publicist, promotes a series: I’m sure Armitage is not in a position to answer questions about when Berlin Station will hit other TV markets outside the U.S., but he will get asked anyway.
  3. What happens when an actor takes on the role of a social media person / blogger — when the links you share don’t work, everyone you “know” and her brother will contact you for an explanation. Even if you don’t have one. You can drown in the attempt to be helpful.


~ by Servetus on September 10, 2016.

43 Responses to “Three disjointed thoughts on Richard Armitage and Berlin Station promotion”

  1. I’d never expect him to answer detailed questions re airing conditions. But I’m also sure he or his “team” wouldn’t spread the news unauthorized. We’ll see…

    • That wasn’t what I said, though. Of course he had permission to distribute the info (and the info came from at least four sources I saw within about fifteen minutes — it was a coordinated release.) My question was whether EPIX / Vanity Fair had failed to geoblock in advance of this release and then noticed sometime yesterday how many views were coming from o/s the U.S.

  2. Yep this is all kinds of awkward for him. Is the video still available in the US?

    • Some people are seeing them, but I can’t anymore — which may mean the page will let each IP address see the episodes for a limited time?

  3. The Vanity Fair link links to PSY (pop artist). It’s got to be an unfortunate, digital mistake

    • Yesterday I thought it was a DoS effect — too many people asking to be served the same file. Today, I’m not so sure.

  4. Epix are obviously aware that he can reach a lot more (or at the very least different) people than they can at present and are trying to use this. But the campaign so far shows a lack of interest in markets outside of the USA, which is unfortunately a fairly common problem. I don’t think they’re aware of the frustration this is causing. The next logical step are lots of illegal downloads once the series is broadcast. That will then be a reason for them to complain about lost sales… ARGH!
    None of this is his fault, naturally. While Epix have my sympathy for trying to use his reach for promotion, someone there should at least bother to give us some information on whether there are any international sales so far and where to.

    • I’m not sure they are unaware, but I think the frustration this is causing o/s the US is a side effect they can deal with because it’s outside of their primary focus.

      If we say, the primary purpose of marketing is to get people to buy EPIX, then they clearly want to start in the US. The marketing should excite people who have EPIX and encourage others in the US to purchase access to EPIX. That frustration is supposed to be motivating. EPIX is never going to sell EPIX subscriptions o/s the U.S. — the goal there is whether it can be sold to broadcasters o/s the U.S. and the negotiations for that are conducted differently than the decision to buy an EPIX subscription (or not).

      There were already going to be tons of illegal downloads, though. Not sure there will be more now.

      And yeah, it’s not his fault. I saved a wry smile for him, though. Those of us who have been doing this for a long time that any information given must be both correct and exact or we’ll pay for it afterwards. But there are people who are convinced he did this to be mean to them.

      • Oh, it hadn’t occurred to me that he might be doing this just to be mean to me! Lol.
        But silly me to have put work before urgent RA viewing ! Watch it or lose it, apparently!

      • To be mean to them? How in the world would they reach that conclusion?

        • I think it’s a question of communicative creep and also, a bit, consumer mentality.

          We know as a general rule that advertising is supposed to entice. We also all have the experience of being enticed by advertising for something we can’t have (for whatever reason — can’t afford it, are allergic to it, etc.). Under normal circumstances we accept that this is how the world works, and advertising, if well done, creates the impression that is about giving viewers all we want, i.e., it is designed for us, even almost personally. So here we have a case of something we want badly, and advertising that entices us to want it even more, but there is no chance we can have it — if we assume that the purpose of advertising is to target us personally, and we know that advertiser knows that some of us can’t have it, it starts to feel like a taunt rather than enticement.

          The market situation of EPIX makes that reading more plausible, in that it’s clear that part of the point of the campaign is to get us to buy EPIX, but EPIX is not equally available to all.

      • I’m well aware that their first (and only?) interest is getting as many US-viewers as possible on board. That makes complete sense since Epix want to become another big TV channel like HBO and others.

        What frustrates me far beyond Berlin Station is that so many US TV channels don’t make the most of other ways of earning money with their material, then complaining about illegal downloads, lack of income, then all to often cancelling series – although there’s an interest in them they could make use of if only they would. In this day and age there are lots of ways they could get international viewers onboard. Due to illegal downloads some channels already do this. Recent seasons of Game of Thrones and a few other series, for example, have been made available in Germany through pay-TV channels in the English original at the same time or within days of the US broadcast. This definitely cuts down on illegal downloads and brings in extra money. You bet I’d book a German TV channel if I could watch this legally and in English right away. The same goes for people in other countries. But the most common way is still concentrating on the US market, then maybe months or years later it’s sold to some other countries, but by that time it’s just not fresh anymore and people have already used downloads, import DVDs etc. And I haven’t even gone into the possibility of legal international streaming or downloads. That’s something I’d also love to pay for if only someone were willing to treat me as a paying customer.

        As it is, I’m used to having to wait months and hoping for a DVD release. In most cases that’s not an issue (unless there’s no release), but in this case I really don’t want to wait until after the series has been broadcast to see it because it would be much more fun to share this with the US fans. Oh well, it’s not like we can influence this.

        • What your comments underlines for me is how much we are on the cusp of the end of the advertising / public license fee model.

          My understanding is that assuming the entire population of Germany as n, roughly 80 million viewers, the total German pay-tv market (all channels together) is only something like 9-10% of the whole German TV market (roughly 7 million subscribers), and I’m guessing the market for an English-only broadcast w/o subtitles would be slightly smaller, i.e., you’re only capturing the market segment of people subscribing to pay-tv whose English is good enough to watch a TV show in English and don’t expect or need subtitles. (I don’t know how likely it is that someone who watches it this way pirates it and adds their own local subtitles and distributes it — but my understanding is that Germany is a case where crackdowns on pirates are really severe, so this kind of distribution is probably “safer” in Germany than elsewhere.)

          So I suppose it would depend on how much the respective broadcaster would pay for rights, i.e., if the pay TV broadcaster will pay more for rights than the general broadcaster (who might have more to pay if they are gauging something on size of audience, or if they have access to license fees). If EPIX’s primary goal is to build audience numbers, though, given the relatively small size of the German pay-TV market, their current behavior remains comprehensible.

        • I suppose you could argue that if they showed it on German pay-tv that might create buzz in Germany generally, but if they then turn around and sell it to a general broadcaster immediately, that kind of serves to alienate their pay-tv subscriber audience.

          I forgot to consider the additional cost of voice dubbing, though, which might reduce the price a German general broadcaster would pay for an English series as opposed to a pay-tv broadcaster that doesn’t have to add anything.

        • something else that I was just reminded of — this show was paid for in part with German public funding. That might affect the pay tv question here.

          • Yeah, now that you bring this up. I had it in my mind, as someone who in case is more or less most exclusively watching public service broadcasting, I would expect to see Berlin Station either on ARD or ZDF. Germany for sure paid a considerable amount of money for this production and a lot of German manpower and creativity is involved in this series. All this would predestinate it for an official German release. The question is how long they will require to dub it and to finally air it. Not that I need it dubbed in any way! Just have no idea who could be asked about this matter.

          • I’m not sure if this is a case where German public television automatically aquires the rights to it because it was partly state-funded. That’s not my specialty, but: From what I read in an article that didn’t relate to Berlin Station, Germany tries to make filming in Germany more attractive with these subsidies because filmmakers don’t get the kind of generous tax-cuts many other countries, e. g. in Eastern Europe, offer to them. So that’s the only way German studios etc. can stay at least somewhat competetive. Otherwise we’re just too expensive compared to several other European countries. Berlin Station is a bit out of that range since the title / subject requires Berlin, but this concept goes for other projects that have a genuine choice. This kind of subsidy doesn’t automatically mean that German public television is involved, though it could be. I have seen films / series that were clearly co-produced by ARD or ZDF etc., but I haven’t read anything like that about Berlin Station. Homeland, for example, must have received the same support for filming in Germany, but the broadcast is on private TV channels from what I’ve seen. (I basically gave up watching German television years ago and use imported DVDs instead, but that’s what it says on the internet.)

            A second problem is dubbing. Traditionally it led to delays (and still often does so), but due to illegal downloads more film and TV companies hand over their material early enough to the dubbing companies so that the dubbed broadcast can be close to the US broadcast. They realised that there is just less and less tolerance for long delays and that they lose potential viewers / buyers if those have to wait too long. The majority of those downloaders make do with the English original, by the way.

            I chose the example with Game of Thrones and a few other series because you didn’t just get a dubbed version (I have no interest whatsoever in that), but the original. There are more and more people, especially young people that grew up with DVDs, that like watching the original. It’s not so appealing to a lot of other, especially older people. I didn’t pay attention to that because it didn’t interest me, but as far as I know, in some cases you do have a choice and can watch the dubbed version, too, even with such an early broadcast. (see above for how that process has been sped up) But Game of Thrones is an excellent example for how the sheer number of illegal downloads drove it home to the copyright owners that they’re losing something and that this can be avoided be making it legally available at the same time or shortly after the original broadcast. People are quite willing to pay for this, even though with a bit of patience most series make it onto free TV or become available as DVD season sets with bonus features etc..

            Lastly, Germany is certainly not as big a market as the USA. But I picked it as one of many countries affected by this. If Epix sold their rights quickly to several other countries, this would definitely be nice extra income. But a lot of companies in the entertainment industry are still stuck in old business concepts that don’t consider a changed audience and changed ways of bringing their material to it to a sufficient degree and in a timely fashion. Next step: Illegal downloads, complaints about lost business, series being cancelled, people getting fined for illegal downloads etc. Things are changing, Game of Thrones being a positive example, but slowly.

            • I’m not talking about the whole size of the market, but rather proportion of market held by pay-tv. If there are 80 million Germans and they are all consumers of the non-pay TV offering, but only 7 million of them are pay-tv subscribers (and that is the sum for all channels), it stands to reason to me that not just the audience, but also the amount of money to be harvested from a non-pay TV broadcaster (whether public or private, although of course the public broadcaster has access to the pot of money from the Rundfunkbeiträge) would be potentially much larger. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for EPIX to postulate that it could be worth waiting for a non-pay-tv purchaser under those circumstances. I agree that things are changing (and the fact that they don’t change fast enough in some ways is a constant litany of mine), but they haven’t changed enough yet to affect those numbers. I’m guessing that they did this after GoT turned into a hit, rather than from the very first season?

              re: public funding — Homeland was subsidized by Medienboard (Berlin + Brandenburg), while Berlin Station was supported by a federal program (German Motion Picture Fund). I have seen examples of MBB monies paid back but I don’t think GMPF funds need to be reimbursed (I’d have to read more closely).

  5. Yes, I also think someone forgot the geoblock earlier and now they ‘fixed’ it.
    Your other two points are difficult to answer or guess….maybe he’ll delete tweets when the information isn’t correct or no longer available?

    • I think there’s a kind of classic communication problem going on here. I’m guessing that all the info he gets is valid primarily for the US market. EPIX isn’t thinking about foreign markets, because this is not how it is going to attract foreign viewers. So it isn’t labeled as “for the US only.” However, he has an international audience. (Problem One — info going to people it’s not targeted for and where the rules may be different).

      Then, he assumes, because it is known, and because he has already responded to the question once, that people know that o/s of the US is going to be dicey or impossible to view this stuff. (Problem Two — basic rule of teaching: you have to say something at least three times for most people to notice it. Any time you say anything important, 3/4 of the audience will not be listening or not listening carefully.) So he thinks he doesn’t have to keep repeating this thing that is already known.

      Tinally, there are people who ask, or continue for ask, who are motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with the answer to the question — as pressure, or to get attention, or whatever. (Problem 3: Not all questions being asked are actually about getting an answer.)

      • Yes, it sure is a communication problem.
        I don’t want to disgruntle anyone but I must say some people seems really naive to me because when you look at a firm like EPIX, isn’t it logical to assume that they restrict their service to their audience even if they don’t say so?
        For example I’m surprised that the Berlin Station homepage with the virtuel experience is accessible for everyone because to me it would have made perfect sense to restrict the site to their customers or at least to US based users.
        That’s why I always seemed so negative about the series because I don’t expect any free access to it soon for non americans….

        Problems 2 and 3 are not completely solvable I think but I hope RA adopts some useful tools to handle this (beyond his tweet and delete game)

  6. Olen Steinhauer just tweeted that the missing videos were a “hiccup” and they should be back up soon. Not very clarifying, but at least acknowledges that there’s a problem being worked. What the problem actually was…???

    • I wish these people would specify “for which audience,” i.e., are the people who were geoblocked from YT yesterday still geoblocked (for instance)?

      • It’s back up on Vanity Fair. I can see it here in the UK:

        • Ok, even I in Germany can see, it’s up again on that Vanity Fair Site. But (!!)…if I click it YT tells me that the video is not available.
          Truth be told, I’m sooooo glad 😀 I watched both episodes instantly after the link appeared only 2 nights ago, and then also downloaded them immediately. Doubtless there were no more than a good 2 hours sleep left (and I felt quite groggy the next day due to easily comprehensible reasons!) but over the years I’ve learned the most important lesson: Hurry up! Make it quick!! Yeah, I became a rather distrustful person re all things ‘Armitage’ on the internet!! 😉 🙂

        • The links are not working for me. Possibly they added the geo blocking and reposted? Or I need to clear my cache. Or I should be grateful I got to see both episodes and move on. The show really looks great. I totally agree Servetus, when you say the Richard we missed is back. Now I hope that whatever distributor is charged with selling the international rights has checked a map and figured out where Canada is;)

          • They’re not available in Germany anymore. Someone from the US can watch them through this link though. That speaks for geoblocking, which wasn’t there at first.

  7. Being the shallow person that I am, I”m just appreciating the picture of RA with his shirt undone. Good choice, Serv

  8. Odd that some links don’t work anymore, but I can still see them from Heather’s Sept 7 Fully Grown up… as well as on YouTube. Haven’t checked any others today.
    If Epix could start selling subscriptions themselves, they would be a lot better off. As it is, even in the U.S., not all cable systems (such as Comcast) carry it. Those that do, probably do so as part of one of the most expensive upper tier packages.
    Why would anyone complain to Richard as though he were in charge of anything? He doesn’t have the answers.
    LOL. Ya, the whole putting the episodes out there, and then taking them away was all an evil plot of Richard’s in order to be mean to his fans. He convinced Epix to go through the trouble of doing this because they too want to be mean to his fans.

  9. I love that picture!

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