The web series "Frankenstein, MD" recasts Mary Shelley's titular doctor as "Vicky," fresh out of med school and vlogging with her assistant "Iggy," who only moans "yes, master" sarcastically. The show is born out of a partnership between PBS Digital Studios and Pemberley Digital, which made a name for itself with similar adaptations of Jane Austen novels.
Bernie Su developed "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" and "Emma Approved" — webcam updates on "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" respectively — and now "Frankenstein, MD." He says telling stories in four-to-five-minute increments "speaks to our modern culture."
“People want to just get in and get out, get in and get out,” says Su. “What’s challenging for that format for us is when you’re talking about a long story, like a grand narrative.”
But Pemberley Digital’s challenge is even bigger than that. The studio doesn't only update classic literature broken up into YouTube-able chunks, it creates shows with an eye toward building franchises and making real money, which isn't something all web-series creators can say.
Here are five ways Pemberley has turned its web series into a business, starting with "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries."
YouTube's partnership program allows Pemberley and other users to get a cut from ads shown before their videos.
The world of Lizzie Bennet and William Darcy has not only expanded to spinoff videos, but pins, a mug, posters and more.
Similar to the YouTube ad program, if Su's company links to another website and that site makes a sale, Pemberley gets a piece.
You can still stream "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," but Pemberly has also put the series out on home video.
"We’ve sold, I believe now, 7,000 units," Su says. "Again, for a show that is available for free online, which is amazing.”
Simon & Schuster published a novelization called "The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet," which retells the series as journal entries. For those keeping score at home, Su says, "Lizzie Bennet is now "a book based on the web series, which is based on a book.”
The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong largely have been peaceful, but many mainland Chinese see the demonstrators as spoiled troublemakers who are asking for too much, too soon.
Hewlett-Packard is splitting in two, the company confirmed this morning. The printing and computer side of the business will go in one direction, and in the other direction will go... everything else, under the name HP Enterprise.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is a software and services business. It does advanced analytics, enterprise development and a number of other consulting services.
The computer printer side is still grappling with the age of the tablet and smartphone, which hit the computer sector hard.
“Not only were consumers purchasing fewer desktops and laptops where HP was strong,” says Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research, “but on the smartphones and tablets consumers were doing less printing because tablets can be taken with you and you can view the documents on the tablet itself instead of having to print it.”
The printer and computer side has stabilized over the past few years, and paid down some of its debt. Even so, the Enterprise group had higher margins, says Rubin.
“HP is splitting because there are two different directions and two segments of the business,” he says. “They have different market dynamics, different margin structures, different distribution systems.” HP Inc. (the computer-printer people) has a much bigger consumer-facing marketing component, whereas the Enterprise group is more consulting- and services-focused.
Generally speaking, “independent companies can pursue what’s best for them rather than what a board of directors looking at various subsidiaries would be doing, and Wall Street tends to value that highly,” says Bill Caffee, a securities lawyer with White Summers Caffee and James.
Investors who might’ve liked one side of HP but not the other will be free to invest in just the side they want, another reason why splitting can help valuations. Consumers won’t see much difference; computers and printers will keep the high-powered HP brand.