By Jeff Bercovici, Forbes Staff
If you’re a media conglomerate or cable distributor, the conjoined trends of cord-cutting and over-the-top TV viewing have you scared out of your wits right now. If you’re a start-up whose raison d’être is to capitalize on those trends, however, the world looks very different.
One of those start-ups, Bedrocket Media Ventures, just snagged a $15 million Series A investment from the venture capital firm NEA. The new funding enables the 30-person New York-based company to ramp up its development of new series and other video content.
“We’re big believers in the paradigm shift that’s going on in media right now, and this capital gives us a great opportunity to accelerate what we’re doing,” says Bedrocket’s CEO, Brian Bedol. “You’ll see us be able to make more bets on great content in partnership with great creators and do it in a completely entrepreneurial way.”
At least one of its bets is already paying off: the film “Sleepwalk With Me,” starring comedian Mike Brbiglia. Bedrocket was the executive producer of the movie, which was co-produced by “This American Life” host Ira Glass. It opened nationally over the holiday weekend after taking in nearly $70,000 in its single-screen debut.
“It’s exactly the kind of project we want to support more of,” says Bedol. He credits the collective social media footprint of the principals — “This American Life’s” 581,000 Facebook fans and Brbiglia’s 166,000 Twitter followers — for helping the film find its audience without spending millions on marketing.
While a feud between “Sleepwalk With Me” and “The Avengers” was just for laughs, it’s no joke that independent productions can compete with corporate-backed fare once the costs of marketing and distribution are subtracted out. Or so Bedrocket is betting.
“They big media companies were perfectly suited to a world of gatekeepers because they had high margins, high costs, high barriers to entry,” says Bedol. “That’s the kind of thing you need a predictable distribution path for. But when you have this kind of ubiquitous global distribution — it’s revolutionary.”