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Anne Thompson has another good “Risky Business” column up in which she answers something that I’ve been wondering. The focus of the column is on how the various “window-busting” theatrical/DVD release experiments, including Soderbergh’s Bubble, have panned out, and the second half talks about Ben Rekhi’s Waterborne, which I’ve written about before on this blog.

I was interested in knowing how Rekhi’s film did in its premiere on the Google Video Store, and Thompson has the disappointing news. The film’s online premiere seemed like a minor success story, with 3,000 downloads, until the final accounting came in:

But then Google Video told the filmmaker that their numbers were wrong. “They told me last week that there was a glitch in their accounting,” he says. “A design flaw. They said they never misled me, that they were giving me estimates that were not accurate. What had been 3,000 downloads went down to 300. It was shocking and depressing. It was one-tenth of what I thought it was.”

Because the Google Video decision was made so late, a day-and-date DVD release wasn’t possible, so the DVD date was set at six weeks after its Google launch, Feb. 21. Rekhi says 22,000 units were shipped. “It’s hard to see a direct impact on how the online premiere affected DVD sales. Awareness is hard to gauge. You have to spend money to make money.”

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