Traffic, Revenues and Costs

[This is an excerpt from The Conversations Network 2008 Business Plan. We’re starting an open discussion on the Future of The Conversations Network on our forums, and we hope everyone will join us there and tell us what you think.]

Fully burdened with our infrastructure expenses, the cost to produce each episode on The Conversations Network is approximately $200. In 2007 we produced 396 new episodes for a total cost of about $79,200. As far as traffic, we received 1.35 million website pageviews and 6.2 million MP3-file downloads. (Downloads are higher because of our RSS subscribers.)

Based on that traffic, we estimate we had the potential to generate $74,550 in net revenues from a combination of sponsorships and listener donations. That’s 94% of our costs. In fact, we didn’t generate that much in revenues, but that’s what we think we could have generated if we had done a better job of it. The difference between our actual revenues and expenses was funded by institutional grants and major private donations.

One objective for The Conversations Network is to become self sustaining. We’d like to be able to produce programs without depending on grants, which are notoriously difficult to renew year after year. To achieve this, we will have to generate the following traffic per episode, which ultimately translates into underwriting and membership/donation dollars:

  • 3,627 website pageviews, and
  • 16,596 MP3-file downloads

These are important numbers because they allow us to evaluate the breakeven potential of any new series or channel on the network. Any new programs that generate less than the above traffic will have to be subsidized by a surplus of traffic from other programs or by supplemental funding.

Server Backups to AWS S3

Are you running redundant database and web servers? You’re covered in case of a disk failure, etc., right? But what about a fire in your web-hosting facility? Or some maniacal sysadmin with a hacksaw? Suppose you lose *all* your servers? Off-site storage, right? Are you doing that daily and for all your files?

Here at The Conversations Network we’ve got a great automated solution. I wrote an rsync-style utility that copies any new/modified files in a directory tree to Amazon’s AWS S3 every night. I included a 7-day rotating copy of our databases, too. The cost is running a whopping $16 per month. Yes, you read that right: $16. That includes about 65GB of data supporting the more than 1,600 programs we’ve produced or that are in production including the MP2 originals and MP3 distribution copies.