When our team began transitioning to full time RV life (a full year process and we’re almost on the road) earlier this year we were completely enthralled by the lifestyle itself and the movement behind it. Saying we were hooked would be an understatement. We would meet all day, talking about the thrill of it all, and then stay at the office through the evenings binge watching RVer YouTube channels.
We were starving for content. We wanted to know the story. We wanted to consume the adventures others were going on. We wanted our own feelings about nomadic life confirmed by others and we wanted to see the journey through the perspective of those out there actively living it.
YouTube was and is a great start. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans living the full time RV life, so it isn’t a surprise that a lot of them are documenting their journey through film. In short personal form, RVing YouTubers have it handled.
But when it comes to long form episodic shows and feature length films… good luck finding something to watch. Netflix, Amazon and the major networks haven’t touched the story. At least, not in a compelling way that most RVers can relate to with broad appeal.
This was before we decided to take the plunge with major investment into producing the feature length film RV Nomads. This was before we decided to produce RV Nomadic content of any kind. This was at a time when our staff had decided to collectively prepare to buy RV’s and eventually hit the road. The plan was to take our marketing operation with us and work on the roam.
But the question kept plaguing us. With such an epic story to tell about a movement that appears to be exploding in growth, why is there not more long form entertainment focusing on RV life? Amazon and Netflix, for example have a plethora of documentaries on virtually any topic you can think of. Anything, that is, outside of the RV life.
Which is bizarre. The RV industry is experiencing record growth in ways no other industry is seeing. Hundreds of new RVers hit the road every day. The RVIA estimates there are nearly 1,000,000 full time RVers today. Granted, a big bulk of those are likely stationary, but the fact remains there is a consumer market well into the millions of Americans who live the RV life in one way or another. Full time, part time, weekend warriors, you name it.
Furthermore, the vast majority of RVers are not watching standard cable/network television unless they’re at a campground that includes the service as part of the full-hookup amenities. They’re likely watching content streamed online (provided there is cellular data service or strong enough wifi).
So where is the entertaining content designed for this huge market of content consumers? Why is there such a huge void?
Part of the answer is the economics of the entertainment industry. To make this point we’re going to take a look at the Travel Channel show Big Time RV. It’s a high end episodic production that targets a small, niche market of high end RV consumers.
Check out the last three posts on their main site.
Million Dollar RV Pictures, $100,000 Dishwasher Pictures and a post about getting 500 Horsepower for under $400K. It’s an extremely well produced show and very visually appealing overall.
But let’s face it, this program is targeting a small niche audience that can afford $500,000 rigs. It’s not designed for the masses within the RV lifestyle. It probably costs more to produce a single episode than we’ll spend producing a full feature length motion picture.
And with that kind of cost, the ad dollars required to support such a program are enormous. Of course, when your targeted audience may be in the market to buy $500,000 rigs, the ad dollars are justified with only a hand full of sales.
You see, advertising with such a costly program when the products being marketed are $25,000 travel trailers and $45,000 5th wheels just doesn’t work. The economics quickly get out of balance. It doesn’t matter if it attracts a larger, broader audience. It’s just not as cut and dry in terms of the sales justifying the ad rates needed to justify the high costs of production and air time on such a large cable network.
So those of us wanting content exploring the daily life of the average RVer are left out of the picture. Hollywood and the cable networks in Manhattan aren’t interested in us. Their high end production teams and extraordinary overhead require them to spend a truck load of cash to produce 22 minutes of content, so much cash that they’re forced to demand huge sums in ad dollars to support such content.
Hence niche big spender shows like Big Time RV. Shows that still provide value and entertainment to their targeted audience, but don’t reach the broader RV movement. Not even close.
They don’t need to.
So here we were stuck looking at this huge void. On one end of the spectrum you have a lot of great YouTube content in short form and on the other you have high end content targeting an audience most of us don’t fit in. What about everything in the middle? What about the rest of us?
That’s why RV Nomads was born. And while RV Nomads is currently our primary focus, as it should be, trust us when we say… RV Nomads is just the beginning of something special brewing here at ORT.
We’re currently exploring multiple episodic programs to run alongside our feature length motion pictures. By the end of 2018 our studios will be rolling out a wide range of entertaining productions designed specifically for the RV community. We’re looking at multiple shows, additional films and various other relevant programs. We’re laying the framework for a full scale independent content network.
It’s going to be exciting, folks. Buckle up and get ready for an amazing ride!
-The ORT Team