I have greatly enjoyed Louie's work, inlcuding his FX and HBO series. That is why I was pleased to see reports of Louie's recent successful effort to market content directly to his fans.
I first learned about this last week in the GigaOm piece: What Louis CK Knows that Most Media Companies Don't The article says:
Until recently, comedian Louis CK was known mostly for a hilarious clip about how “everything is amazing but no one is happy,” which lampooned our inability to recognize our own good fortune and led to a TV show. Now, he has become the new poster boy for the idea of selling content directly to fans, after the success of a video download he offered on his website without any digital-rights protection. And that success contains lessons for traditional media companies who continue to lock down their content and otherwise fail to take advantage of the social web.
What Louie did, essentially, was bring his content directly to the public via his website at an affordable price ($5) without imposing restrictions or digital rights protection – avoiding the tangle of overhead, middlemen fees etc. that he otherwise would have had to pay. In other words, Louie made it cheap and easy – and is profiting in the process. He has also been getting a ton of great press.
The NY Times' David Carr covered this yesterday in his Media Equation column:
The show could be viewed as the consumer wished, with no rights protection or expensive subscription. A buy-it-and-watch-it proposition, no cable company involved...While I was talking with him on the phone Thursday night, he checked his Web site and about 175,000 people had bought his special through PayPal. He expected 200,000 total downloads by the weekend, which meant he would have grossed $1 million. After covering costs of about $250,000 for the live production and the Web site, that’s a $750,000 profit. And he owns the rights, and the long tail of buyers, in perpetuity.
As a PR person, I had to chuckle about his approach, and media relations advice that Louie's mom gave him (from NY Times).
The transparency of the enterprise, including its cost in relation to how many people bought in, was the subject of media coverage all last week…. “It feels weird having numbers out there, because that’s my personal income,” he said. “But I talked to my mom, who is a pretty judicious, careful person, and she said, ‘Tell them everything. Just let it all get out there.’ So that’s what I have been doing…”
I don't know if I would always agree with that approach, but the advice seems to be working for Louie.