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Stage6 Shutting Down on February 28

Usually when you move out of your apartment or quit your job you give a months notice. The idea being that you give the people you are affecting, time to make the necessary adjustments to your absence. The people who run Stage6, a popular site for indie film/machinima, don't seem to share this idea of being considerate.

Here's the email I received from "Tom" at Stage6 informing me that the site will shut down permanently on February 28. The email is dated February 25; that's 3 days advance notice. I suppose 3 days is better than just shutting down the site without telling anyone.

I'm Tom (aka Spinner), a Stage6 user and an employee of DivX, Inc., the company behind the service. I'm writing this message today to inform you that we plan to shut down Stage6 on February 28, 2008. Upload functionality has already been turned off, and you'll be able to view and download videos until Thursday.

I know this news will come as a shock and disappointment to many Stage6 users, and I'd like to take a few moments to explain the reasons behind our decision.

We created Stage6 with the mission of empowering content creators and viewers to discover a new kind of video experience. Stage6 began as an experiment, and we always knew there was a chance that it might not succeed.

In many ways, though, the service did succeed, beyond even our own initial expectations. Stage6 became very popular very quickly. We helped gain exposure for some talented filmmakers who brought great videos to the attention of an engaged community. We helped prove that it's possible to distribute true high definition video on the Internet. And we helped broaden the Internet video experience by offering content that is compatible with DVD players, mobile devices and other products beyond the PC.

So why are we shutting the service down? Well, the short answer is that the continued operation of Stage6 is a very expensive enterprise that requires an enormous amount of attention and resources that we are not in a position to continue to provide. There are a lot of other details involved, but at the end of the day it's really as simple as that.

Now, why didn't we think of that before we decided to create Stage6 in the first place, you may ask? That's a good question. When we first created Stage6, there was a clear need for a service that would offer a true high-quality video experience online because other video destinations on the Internet simply weren't providing that to users. A gap existed, and Stage6 arrived to fill it.

As Stage6 grew quickly and dramatically (accompanied by an explosion of other sites delivering high-quality video), it became clear that operating the service as a part of the larger DivX business no longer made sense. We couldn't continue to run Stage6 and focus on our broader strategy to make it possible for anyone to enjoy high-quality video on any device. So, in July of last year we announced that we were kicking off an effort to explore strategic alternatives for Stage6, which is a fancy way of saying we decided we would either have to sell it, spin it out into a private company or shut it down.

I won't (and can't, really) go into too much detail on those first two options other than to say that we tried really hard to find a way to keep Stage6 alive, either as its own private entity or by selling it to another company. Ultimately neither of those two scenarios was possible, and we made the hard decision to turn the lights off and cease operation of the service.

So that's where we are today. After February 28, Stage6 will cease to exist as an online destination. But the larger DivX universe will continue to thrive. Every day new DivX Certified devices arrive on the market making it easy to move video beyond the PC. Products powered by DivX Connected, our new initiative that lets users stream video, photos, music and Internet services from the PC to the TV, are hitting retail outlets. We remain committed to empowering content creators to deliver high-quality video to a wide audience, and we'll continue to offer services that will make it easy to find videos online in the DivX format.

It's been a wild ride, and none of it would have been possible without the support of our users. Thank you for making Stage6 everything that it was.

--Tom

Ok, the site is closing because they couldn't afford it anymore. They tried to sell it, but didn't find a buyer so they are closing. Immediately. Forever. In three days. So get your stuff and get out.

Why is it that I don't really believe that "Tom" is telling the whole story? Could copyright issues have been a factor? And why the immediate closure? Would the stampede of people pulling out of the site have adversely affected their "bottom line" in some fashion? Like all the add money they would lose if traffic at the site were to bottom out? Unless we have someone from the inside who decides to spill the beans, we'll probably never know why Stage6 decided to leave such a bad impression by closing so quickly.



Stage6 was, in my opinion, the real quality site for machinima and indie animation. Youtube has a larger audience, but the quality of the actual film is low. Stage6 was created to show off the DivX codec and it certainly did that. Some of the most high quality video on the net could be seen there. And the way Stage6 was integrated into the DivX encoder/player itself was very well done.

It's a shame that such a great outlet for machinima films is closing so suddenly. I think the community of filmmakers who have used and supported the site regularly deserve better than a 3 day closing notice written in the jargon of a community relations officer.

I guess it's on to Vimeo.


Labels:

  1. Blogger Overman | February 26, 2008 at 10:38 AM |  

    I really think DivX miscalculated the impact of this decision, big time. I agree with you, the reasons they list don't seem weighty enough to take this kind of action, there must be other factors.

    Regardless, it was a bad move.

  2. Blogger FLeeF | February 26, 2008 at 12:18 PM |  

    I agree, Ricky. It's a shame such a great site was probably doomed by poor management and marketing neglect. There's a bad taste in my mouth for any DivX product now.

    I see you like Vimeo. I opened an account there but haven't yet uploaded anything. It's new so I worry about it's ability to survive (although that's probably the case for all of them). Is there something in particular you like about Vimeo that sets it apart from say Blip or Veoh?

    I ask because it looks like I'm being evicted in 3 days and need a new high-res streaming home fast. :)

  3. Blogger Ricky Grove | February 26, 2008 at 12:45 PM |  

    Thanks for your comments guys. There is definitely something else going on here that would force them to shut down so quickly (although the closure was probably decided many months ago) and offer such a "it was a wild ride, but we can't afford it now" explanation. Hope some of the real reasons emerge.

    I'm not sure why I like vimeo, Frank. I've had good experiences with them and they offer good results. It's more instinct, but then again I don't have much content there so it's not a big risk. I'd suggest looking over their terms of service carefully. Another jam that the kindly Stage6 people have put people like yourself in. They may have good reasons for closing, but their way of going about it is awful.

  4. Anonymous BenG | February 26, 2008 at 2:13 PM |  

    Blue News linked to a article that seems to explain the heart of the reason for the shutdown..

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/63562-can-divxs-safe-harbor-protect-it-from-stage6-pirates

  5. Blogger Ricky Grove | February 27, 2008 at 7:39 PM |  

    Thank you very much for the link to the article, Beng. I think the article pretty much puts Stage6's abrupt shut-down into perspective. I knew they were having rights issues, but had no idea it was so severe since I basically use the site to watch machinima/animation and post the occasional project.

    Now, their motives are clearer, but their actions are still questionable at best.

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