One of the best aspects of web video is the whole “free” part of the equation.  Web series have been funded through all means such as advertising and second jobs, but often that isn’t enough.  What if you have a show that is so popular, that your fan base might be willing to pay for it? College Humor will attempt to find out how much fans are willing to pay for Jake & Amir, one of the top web series going, with a 30-minute episode entitled, “Fired.”  At the very least, College Humor will be offering 10 times the show that fans normally get, for a small streaming price.

Jake & Amir: Fired, Available For Facebook Streaming And On DVD

A 30-minute Jake & Amir, which will run $2.99 on Facebook and $13 for a DVD copy, is one of those toe-dipping maneuvers we talked about yesterday with Paramount’s streaming service for Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  The special Jake & Amir episode cost much more to make than one of the 3-minute versions.  According to the All Things D article by Peter Kafka, College Humor CEO Paul Greenberg figures 15,000 DVD and streams will help the project break even.  Considering that the show regularly draws half a million people per episode, the hope is a small percentage of those people will be willing to pay for a bulked-up episode.

I’m not sure if it’s so much of a stretch to think, possibly, if this 30-minute episode works, then perhaps the free content is also going to be given experiments in the future?  If College Humor’s test works, and they try to charge 10 times less for the usual content, that’s around 30 cents an episode, although you’d have to think closer to 99 cents would be the target.  You’d lose some viewers, but maybe those who stay would be enough.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt to try it out, and if it doesn’t work then say, “Sorry, we made a mistake,” and go back to free, ad-supported content later.

These tests will be watched very closely by all of us who love web content, I’m sure.  Having a pay model that works will change the way we watch content in the future.