Spazbot Studios 2015 Annual Report

Spazbot Studios Annual Report 2015

Our Humble Little New Media Production Company will turn 2 years old this February 2016. It seems crazy to think that we have been at this now for two years, producing content, developing new shows, writing shows on a weekly basis, etc. Time has really seemed to flown by in our brief history. I can remember building this very website for the first time in 2014. I remember the launch of Dead Fans Talking the first official NEW Spazbot Studios Show! So, many things have happened since then, and it has been an amazing journey. We have succeeded. We have failed. We have learned some things. We have celebrated. We have met some wonderful people. More after the jump!

Our number one goal in  2015 was to grow the audience we serve. Our secondary goal was to increase revenue for the Studio so we could do things like buy new equipment, hire talent when necessary and cover our cost of operation. The question is, did we achieve that?

In terms of Growth we examine a few metrics: Website Visits across all Spazbot Shows and Projects, Podcast Downloads, YouTube Views, Twitch Video Plays. These are the key engagement numbers or what we call ‘interactions’ that we measure. We track these measurements each month and we have done so since we started officially in 2014. I will not go into concrete numbers, so I will just speak towards percentages for the sake of this exercise.

Did we GROW our audience in 2015. Oh, Hell Yes. Our interactions went up 314% in 2016. We saw record downloads for every single show that was in production in 2014 through 2015. This means that The Starting Zone, Stormcast and Dead Fans Talking saw more Podcast Downloads by a large margin. The Starting Zone, which saw a change in hosts with the addition of Alt, actually attracted more listeners in 2015 than ever before! This was pretty remarkable considering that World of Warcraft had perhaps its most challenging year to date with several negative news stories. Bringing Alt to the show also fundamentally changed the over-all tone of The Starting Zone, and in the end, I think instilled the PASSION for Warcraft that perhaps we had missed on the show for a while. She has a remarkable passion for the game and its players, and I think that shook up our foundation of old school listeners in a good way.

Dead Fans Talking spurred by our awesome new Facebook Community also posted record numbers! Our coverage of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD sparked new interest in the show and it finally found the community it so desperately needed in 2015! This was added a BIG burst of energy for the DFT crew as we had been languishing a bit in 2015. There was even a discussion about canning the show and doing something else. However, after a big break for the summer, we came back better than ever!

We added a NEW show to the roster as well. Super Heroic debuted to modest numbers in 2015, but it has seen continued growth since the show went live. We are excited about where Super Heroic will go in 2016, and we think the show is just now beginning to find a dedicated listener base. However, for as good as the show is, it should have MANY more downloads that it currently has. So, if you like Comic Book Movies and TV Shows, go subscribe!

Stormcast was without a doubt the big success story of 2015 for Spazbot Studios, and in many ways, it was a comeback story. In late 2014, the show was almost cancelled. Jesse Kobayshi officially walked away from the show, and I was left to find a co-host. I almost decided to shut it down. The numbers were very low with just a handful of listeners. Heroes of the Storm was in Technical Alpha Still. It just felt like a show without direction. However, we decided to go looking for a new host, and we found Notch. Notch’s enthusiasm and over-all knowledge and passion for Heroes injected the much needed energy the show was lacking. We saw growth immediately after we brought him the show. This lead to a great relationship with Blizzard PR and Community Management, and before we knew it, we were attending special events and seeing more and more listeners each month. The SECOND big surge of new listeners came when Willie “Dills” Gregory joined the show this Past Fall. Dills was in the midst of a successful run on The Instance and of course helped make The Angry Chicken a massive success. When he joined Stormcast it brought the show to a whole new set of listeners, and we are just now starting to hit a stride with our new lineup! We are really excited to see where the show goes in 2016!

We saw modest growth in our other distribution channels. Our YouTube Channel saw the most views ever, and our Twitch Channel also had its biggest year to date. Heck we even won a TWITCH AWARD in 2015! That was pretty cool. We need to do MORE on both of these platforms in 2016. There is big potential for both, and we hope to make more content SPECIFICALLY for each channel in the coming year. This is a goal for 2016 to do MORE specific Video Content that is not just tied to our Podcasts.

What about that second goal? How did that revenue thing work out? Talking about Money can be a tricky subject for Content Creators. Some creators HATE the discussion and others revel in it. I think that depends on the space you create in, right? If we did Business Podcasts, money would be an open subject. Just look at Start Up or Smart Passive Income. Those shows talk about their earnings all the time. Their communities applaud their success, because in the end the community is responsible for the success. We came from World of Warcraft Podcasting, where money discussions are taboo and at times terrifying. I will not get into that discussion here. Go to mickmontgomery.com for those kind of talks. Simply put, Spazbot Studios is a business enterprise. It was founded to be profitable so that it could produce awesome quality content. Are we Gimlet Media? Are we Nerdist Industries? Nope, but we aspire to be someday. Bottom line, in 2014 the Studio ran at a loss. How did we do in 2015? We operated at a profit. Was it enough for anyone to do Spazbot Full Time? Nope, but we were able to pay our bills and have enough in the tank to carry us through 2016. Goal Met.

Patreon was a part of our success story for 2015. We only had a single Patreon for Stormcast running this year, but it was a REALLY good experience. I hope to actually write more about our experience with Patreon and why its value exceeds the money you make from it. Over-all it was a really good choice, and more Patreons may happen in 2016. We also plan to sell some merchandise this year as we have been working with some artists and vendors to create some cool stuff to pick up for your favorite show.

We met our two big goals for the 2015! Hurray! But there were two unexpected success stories in 2015 I want to discuss. The first of which was our Team at Spazbot Studios. For much of 2014, our creative staff was simply myself, Wendy Maybury, Jarret LeMaster and Jesse Kobayashi. Then of course as you know, Jesse had to part ways with us in 2014 for Stormcast and 2015 for The Starting Zone. However, something awesome happened. When I started interviewing for Jesse’s replacement in 2015 for TSZ I found all these awesome people who were interested in Podcasting. Guys like Jason Lucas, Spencer Downey, Tyler Rivers, Kris Ahlman and Chris Case. So, we decided to invite them onto the team as regular contributors. That ended up working out really well. Then when we launched Super Heroic, more awesome people showed up like Javier “Dukrous” Heredia, Darrell Goodwin, Ty Prunty, Ryan Reider, Tim The Trooper and David Troy (Spencer jumped in too). Before I knew it our SLACK was jumping with daily notes and quips. It was really quite awesome! Having all these talented people participate in the shows behind the scenes was never more evident than when we did our 2015 Holiday Show. That was a ton of fun. I had always envisioned the Studio could be a place where talented people could come together and create. Now that vision is a reality.

The Second unexpected success story were the LIVE events we attended. Most of these were relegated to Heroes of the Storm related events and Blizzcon, but we met some truly awesome people while we were at all of these events. People who listened or watched the shows we produced and were passionate about the topics we discussed. We hope that by incorporating some meetups this year, we can create even more opportunities for people to meet and connect. It should be awesome.

As I wrap up this Annual Report, I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone who listened or watched one of our shows. We thank you so much for making 2015 a success! While we are all proud of what has transpired in 2015, we hope you can feel proud as well, as you were also a big part of Spazbot Studios in 2015! Now, let’s start working on 2016!

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