Introduction to Digital Video Distribution

by EngageMedia August 08, 2012
The following aims to be an overview of the issues and procedures involved in distributing video produced by or for NGOs and non-profits using DVD/VCD and the web. This will hopefully also serve as a practical methodology for using free and open source software as part of a digital video distribution strategy.


The type of film you have made will be important in deciding how you choose to digitally distribute it. A shorter news piece may be suited to posting on a website that contains regular updates on a situation or topic and may contain links to other text or pictures relating to the event you are covering. A video with more in-depth background or analysis might be more suited to a themed compilation on a particular issue to sit alongside other videos exploring the same topic from different angles. A feature-length documentary may be better to distribute on DVD – as audiences may be more likely to watch a longer-format movie on their television than on a computer, and downloading large files off the Internet may be impractical.

Who the audience is will have the biggest impact on your methods of distribution – will your target audience have access to a DVD player or the Internet? Or will it be more important to screen your video – perhaps taking a tour of your film out to communities? You may choose to target specific audiences who are most likely to take action on the issues you are dealing with, in addition to reaching a broader audience by uploading your video to the Internet. Both can complement other aspects of your distribution strategy such as direct advocacy and campaign work, community TV and festivals.

All of these issues are important to think about in the planning stages of making your film. Pre-production is the time to define your audience and the best mediums to use to reach them. Advocacy video can only be really useful when used strategically as part of your campaign – which means you should never be producing your film and then left wondering what to do with it. Other independently-produced material will not have a natural home in mainstream media channels so it is equally important to plan ahead.

Bigger is not necessarily better. When your distribution strategy is linked to grassroots campaigns and communities it may have a greater potential to make an impact than a program on television an audience has casually flicked over to.



next: Digital Video Basics