How to Sell DVDs and Videos Online and On-Demand: Part 1

by Huntley in Author Tips, General, Selling Video Online / 02.17.10

MindBites is a platform through which you can sell access to your video content in an online and on-demand format.pricetag You can use the MindBites platform to create a streaming video-on-demand store on your own site or you can sell through our marketplace.  Since we started in this space a couple years back, we’ve learned a tremendous amount about how and what to think about when you’re considering a move to make your DVD or video content available online in a streaming on-demand format.

It’s truly been an interesting time to be at MindBites (  When we launched, the questions we inevitably faced from media contacts, investors and friends all centered around what they saw as absolute frivolity in attempting to charge people for access to anything online, especially video content.  However, we managed to power through and were delighted to find that people were thrilled to pay for access to video content so long as it offered them the answers or assistance they needed.  Similarly, there were loads of people out there that were keen to offer up access to their video content for a price and just needed a marketplace to sell it in or help building a streaming video-on-demand store to bolt onto their own site.  There were some hurdles along the way, but over time, we were able to work through everything and incorporate our learnings into the user experience and the small business platform offerings and enterprise video-on-demand solutions that we built out for our author community:

1. PREVIEWS - No one wants to buy access to a video without a preview of that video.  They want to know how the product quality is, what kind of instruction you can expect, whether the audio is audible/understandable, whether the presenter is compelling, etc.  While offering a downloadable preview may seem like a solution to this, that’s apparently an invitation for people to click away and look elsewhere.  Not only is it time-consuming for them, but there are tons of people out there that are savvy enough to be wary of downloading anything they come across online.  Better safe than sorry…

2. SEO - SEO for video is still in its infancy but text-based SEO principles hold for video products.  Indeed, SEO work is of critical importance for the success of on-demand video products online - you need to take the time to research and incorporate all of the right keywords and you need to take the time to optimize your pages for search.

3. STREAMING vs DOWNLOAD OPTIONS - Very few people care to download a video - most just want to watch it now (streaming/online) and maybe access it again later depending on the subject.  Downloading a version of it just wastes their time, fills up their hard drive and makes people wary of potential viruses and whatnot.

4. SUBSCRIPTIONS, A LA CARTE, BUNDLES & UPSELLING - Subscriptions for content access work, but you need to have *all* of your video content at least visible, amply described and preview-able to Google and the casual web visitor.  If it’s all hidden away behind a paywall, no one will know that it’s there for consumption (even if they are willing to pay to subscribe for access).  Interestingly, combinations of subscription and a la carte models seem to be overwhelmingly successful.  A la carte offerings allow people to try a few lessons out and warm up to you.  Plus, they enable you to put all of your content out there (with keywords, titles, descriptions, SEO-optimized pages, pricing, video previews, etc) and generate a revenue stream that you would otherwise miss entirely.  And, they’re a tremendous lead-generation and marketing tool for a broader subscription-based or bundled option.

In related news, people *love* to upsell.  Whether it’s to a subscription offering or to a bundle of lessons that’s relatively discounted from the price someone would have to buy each a la carte, people are always game for a deal.  With our content partners that use it, we find that the a la carte offerings pull in the traffic but the bundled upsell offerings drive the bulk of their revenue.  The key is recognizing that people are looking for different things and you need to make sure to offer your content in different ways such that they can find a way to buy/consume it that fits their particular preferences.

5. PREPARING CONTENT - Lots of DVD creators that we run across don’t have their original video master files (and even if they do, these masters still need conversion to a compressed web-ready format).  That’s okay.  By now, it’s become pretty easy to convert between different formats.  That said, you are going to be looking at a time commitment.  If you’re ripping from a DVD, there are a slew of different tools that you can use (which Brittanie outlines here), but again, plan on it being a time-consuming process if you’re ripping a lot of DVDs.  With that said, don’t let that deter you.  It’s critically important that you get your video content converted into a web-ready format (I’d suggest aiming for a MP4 file format with an H.264 codec… and maybe a target bit rate of 1500 kbps).  After all, regardless of what you ultimately decide, you’re going to have to decide to make your content available for sale online, and the sooner you can get started on preparing your content, the sooner you’ll be ready to join that game.

My original plan was to include 5 more points here, but this is already getting alarmingly long, so you’ll have to wait till Part 2 to learn what we’ve learned about pricing/conversion, DRM, competing with free/ad-supported content, production quality concerns, and the distinctions between ‘making it available’ and ’selling it.’

As always, if you’re interested in working with us or learning more about the MindBites platform and marketplace for selling access to streaming video on-demand and onlineContact us or sign up to get started!  We also have a special group dedicated to developing and deploying custom paid video solutions for enterprise customers, which you should also check out.


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  1. Kishor, March 1, 2010:

    Well,I agree totally.In demand videos attracts a good online market and people are ready to pay to get access to interesting video content when they watch the preview.

  2. Kishor, March 1, 2010:

    Well,I totally agree.Good and interesting videos find a good online response.Anyone who likes the preview can easily become a serious customer.

  3. Boxedtraining, August 17, 2010:

    I think we need to look at a more flexable approach to the selling of video content online, some like to stream, some like to have a hard copy on their drive ( I’ve paid for it so i want it) some want a backup disc option, some want to subscribe to multiple films. does anyone know a platform that can do all this?

    ADMIN: Yes! MindBites offers that to our content partners. They can constrain or offer downloads, offer “rental” access periods or indefinite access, attach supplemental files for purchasers only, etc!

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