People like James Audobon used to finance their very expensive books by selling subscriptions -- people who wanted the book would fork out the price of the book and then when the writer had enough money, he'd publish it. The cost of getting a book out is only five hundred bucks -- less if you just publish it via a PDF -- but I wonder if the idea could be adapted to television. How many people would have to agree to fork out twenty bucks for twenty episodes of Firefly
to fund a second season? Say a million? I heard that the DVD set has already sold $50 million worth.
(I know the budget is over a million an episode, but if you've got a million an episode in the bank, it shouldn't be too hard to get the rest of the money. It's always the last bit of financing that's the hardest. Your fans would be paying to get the show on the air, but once it was on the air it would earn foreign sales and domestic advertising revenue normally.)
Obviously this wouldn't work for unknown TV shows, but how about offbeat but beloved shows with fanatical fan bases? Are there a million Trekkers who'd pay for more Trek
rather than paying to go to another con?
There would probably have to be some web-based system for the payments, with a way to send the money back if the show doesn't go within a reasonable time, but that shouldn't present a serious technical difficulty.
I would much
rather pay fifty bucks for a new
season of Firefly
than pay my fifty for the episodes I can eventually grab off the air for free if I'm patient.