Setting Up a Streaming Service on Shopify, JW Player & Apps

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Today was quiet. Restful.

I was thankful for a moment to catch up, breathe and take a walk.

The new JW Player is installed and seems to be working well — except for a few minutes when bandwidth exceeded the limits of the free trial (oops).

There were only a few issues with the login process today, but overall it was ok. Occasionally emails sent through our payment processer were caught in spam, and viewers didn’t get links. Frustrating… I tried adjusting SPF, DMIK & CNAMEs with limited success.

Because of this, tomorrow I will switch to requiring account setup & email verification before payment instead of after. Since it’s a member-site (login to access), this seems to make the most sense and is how other sites handle login (Netfix, iTunes, Amazon.)

Originally, we thought we could just send unique screening links. But unless we limit those to an IP address, there would be no way to prevent sharing. Account login is best.

Another soup-to-nuts video service we could have chosen is which is owned by Vimeo OTT. It does have a great customer user-interface, and it may be the way to go — but I love the ability to have immediate control over functionality changes and customer experience (even if we don’t quite have it right yet.)

I also have created an affiliate program for theaters and couldn’t find that functionality with a third party, out-of-the-box service. Any that got close were cost-prohibitive for our theater revenue-sharing model.

The payment & viewing pages are currently built on Shopify, JW Player & several apps (for customer tagging, the affiliate program, and email management.) The Phoenix, Oregon website itself is based on WordPress and hosted with SiteGround.

I don’t know if this is the “right” way to have done this site — but I’m pretty happy with these tools at the moment (except for the mistakes I made this week cobbling them together.) Of course, if we had tens of thousands of dollars, maybe we could build from scratch — but that doesn’t seem necessary at the moment.

Tomorrow -

  • confirm JW Player will not run out of viewing bandwidth again
  • revise (again) the login process
  • add automated gift links
  • confirm expiration of links (the first batch expires Monday at midnight)
  • add 5 more affiliate theaters with links to start promoting Week 2
  • meet with organizaton about spreading the film wider & creating watch parties
  • research Zoom for a (weekly?) live Q&A with audiences who have watched
  • research TV app creation for easier TV viewing (currently only screencast)
  • update FAQ with all we’ve learned the last three days

I am excited to add several new theaters this week. The theaters who have been promoting theatrical-at-home have had steady sales. I will be able to share some of that data on Monday, I hope.

It wasn’t all work today. The highlight of the day was a Zoom happy-hour call with our beloved SB Pit Crew. Maybe COVID brings some good things… like connecting with friends who live hundreds of miles away. And bringing families home together. After all, none of us have anywhere else to go, so we may as well meet online…

AR/VR anyone? Then we’d have it all minus hugs, and we can’t have those now anyway.

♡ Annie


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