A whole generation of upstart video producers can now make money by shooting low-cost digital projects, posting the videos to Google Inc.’s YouTube and recouping a share of advertising revenue sold on the videos. But an L.A. startup called Just the Story LLC believes it offers a better economic model to amateur filmmakers by skipping advertisements altogether and instead sharing half of the $4 monthly it charges subscribers. Launched earlier this year by L.A. tech entrepreneur Matthew Arevalo and three partners, the company has been acquiring short-form videos and full-length TV and feature films to distribute through its website, JTS.TV. The partners are hoping to turn the site into a destination for curated, high-end video that hasn’t found traditional distribution. “It’s hard to discover really great content,” Arevalo said. “We never say we’re a destination for web series. We consider ourselves (an outlet) for independent TV and film.” One of the more popular shows on the site is mystery-thriller “Asylum,” about a team of doctors working at a hospital for the criminally insane. Arevalo was one of the producers of the series. Much of the other 25 or so programs available for streaming on the site have been produced by acquaintances and acquired for free. Videos on the site average between six and eight minutes long. JTS.TV keeps half the subscription revenue and divvies up the rest to the producers in proportion to how many views their videos get. For example, if a program attracts 1 percent of views on the site, it gets a 1 percent share of subscription revenue set aside by the company for content creators. Programs that are made available exclusively to JTS.TV are given a slightly better cut. Arevalo said the company is now adding subscribers at a quickening pace after scoring a deal last month with Saratoga-based Roku, maker of the popular TV box. The deal makes JTS.TV content available on 3 million Roku boxes. Viewers can watch a trial episode on their box and are then given the option of subscribing to JTS.TV. In exchange for the promotion, Roku gets a cut of the subscription revenue from users who were referred from its box. Arevalo said he and his three partners launched the site with a total investment of less than $50,000 and have kept costs down by using facilities at a co-working space in Santa Monica or in his downtown loft. He said the company is considering raising funds, possibly to begin producing original content for the site.
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