Hate Louis C.K., Love His (Profitable) Digital Content Distribution Honor Box Experiment

1 min read

Louis CKIt’s OK to hate Louis C.K. I do. But you should love his latest comedy special.

Not for the content, necessarily, but for the way in which he has distributed it. Hammering another nail into the coffin of Internet-hating big media companies as he goes.

Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. isn’t for me. I’ve tried, I really have. But while everyone else seems to love the guy and thinks he’s hilarious, I can’t stand him. Because he just isn’t funny. In any way. To me, at least, because I understand comedy is subjective.

What is funny, however, is the way Louis C.K. has just got one over on big media. Funny, but also brilliant. And an important step along the road down by which the middle-men will be completely removed from the equation.

Live At The Beacon Theater

Louis C.K. has produced his own comedy special, having it filmed and edited, and uploading it to his site. He has left it DRM-free and unprotected, and asked that fans pay just $5 in order to stream or download it. A bold move, but one that has already paid dividends.

After just a few days online, Live At The Beacon Theater has been paid-for more than 100,000 times. After production costs and payment processing fees, Louis C.K. claims to have made a profit in excess of $200,000. A sum most of us dream of earning in a year, let alone over the course of a weekend.

Louis C.K. is far from the first person to try this approach. But most of the other proponents of the honor box system have come from the music world, with Radiohead and Trent Reznor the biggest names to have done so.

C.K. succeeded by making it cheap and easy for his fans to acquire this show.


We have books being sold in this way, musicians have produced content along these lines, and now a comedy special which could have been sold to a TV network or as a DVD has joined the party. What next? And how long will it be until content creators are selling directly to consumers on a regular basis?

Soon, I hope. Because in that world both parties win and only the money-grabbing middle-men lose.

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