Before going into the plans Graham answered some questions:
- Will James be back? We think and expect so. We will certainly continue to make him offers for guiding with us and hope he will take us up on those. The same goes for other guides and crew. [update: James has accepted freelance work in January, and WE hope that he will continue to accept freelance work after January too.]
- Have the campaign rewards been sent? Not yet. We are working on these. We expect to send the Nkuhuma picture around the end of the month, and the Thandi drawing in December. (The drawing is still being made.)
- Does WildEarth need TV contracts to fund the daily drives? Yes, from the very beginning this has been the only source of revenue large enough to fund our operations and we do not expect that to change in the near future.
- If Djuma can’t support its costs, will you keep doing drives from there? Yes, Djuma and safaris are in our blood and will always be a part of what we do and what we are. It is and will remain a core aspect of our mission to connect people with nature. “WE does not do what we do to make money, but WE makes money to keep on doing what we do.”
Relaunching the WildEarth shop
We will soon relaunch the WildEarth Shop with a broad array of goods and designs from different sites. TeeSpring will be one of them, another one will sell calendars or other goods TeeSpring does not provide. We are looking at everything, from t-shirts to tote bags, and mugs to phone cases. All with different prints. Our logos, of course, but also many of our characters as drawn by Graham.
Graham is currently making 12 drawings of 12 beloved characters to be put on a 2020 calendar that will be available soon. The same, finally, goes for a map of Djuma with all the roads.
We still have some stock of safariLIVE caps that will also be included. These and other safariLIVE branded products will be available until the end of December.
Our aim is to launch the shop on Thanksgiving. (Update: We missed this but will launch during the coming weekend.)
An opportunity to make once-off or regular donations
We will add the option to make donations to our site. These can be once-off or regular and would be a token of appreciation for what we do. These will not be subscriptions or give access to special content but will be a ‘Thank You!’ in support of our mission.
The amounts of these, and whether they are one-off or recurring, is up to you. As we are not a not-for-profit, such donations would not be tax-deductible.
Peter is looking into how to best set this up so it will be easy to use and reliable. We expect it to become available in the first week of December.
A WildEarth book
We want to publish a book that captures the experiences and emotions of our viewers from different sightings they shared with us and others. We would like you to share your most memorable sightings, what they meant to you and how they made you feel. If you can think of some, please send your story to and yours might be included.
The WildEarth vision
WildEarth is a mission-driven business; WE want to connect people with nature. Our content makes a positive change in people’s lives and helps them with reduction of anxiety, supports their healing, and generally makes them feel better about the world and themselves.
In order to continue on this mission, we do need to be economically viable and therefore we need to find the best way to achieve this without compromising the mission. The initiatives listed above will contribute to that but cannot carry us alone. The reality is that the only real option to get enough funding is from licensing TV shows or a TV channel.
One thing we have recognised is that for these shows we need to listen carefully to what our clients (TV execs) want. One major aspect of this is to include time-shifting sightings in addition to the LIVE ones. Together with looking for content from across the globe in different timezones this will overcome the timezone and ‘darkness in prime-time’ problems. And it also reduces the risk for clients of not having animals on screen or compelling content in their prime-time shows.
Over time we want to build this out to a 24-hour LIVE wildlife channel with great content around the clock, so we can connect people everywhere with nature. Africa was the best place to start with this, but there are so many other areas that also have great wildlife. For this, we need to build a network of ‘partner contributors’ around the world that can feed into this which will take quite some time and effort but will allow us to sell TV shows in many different countries but, importantly, to in future also sell the channel itself. In essence, this will move us up the ‘food chain’ and access affiliate fees directly from networks like ComCast, and others. This is a much larger pot than TV show revenues and will also put us back in full control of our content.
For now, to access funding in the short-term we are developing a prime-time show to take to TV execs during the RealScreen event to be held in New Orleans in late January.
We are also looking for and in discussion with some investors who believe in and support our mission to help us fund the creation of the contributor network and the channel infrastructure. Graham will likely visit the US, and possibly UK, in December to meet with various parties.
We will keep everyone updated on how things develop.
Time-shifting of sightings
The basic concept is that we use a great wildlife sighting and play it out while an expert-host discusses the sighting with the person who witnessed it. While the sighting is not LIVE the expert and witness will be LIVE so they can also interact with viewers and answer questions.
As this is an important part of the new programs we are developing, we need to work out how this is best done. For that, we will do a number of experiments in early December and hope to get your feedback to help us fine-tune these.
At this point, we would like to ask for your help in finding us great sightings you witness and for which you have the recording or to point us to ones you know of that are available on-line. We are specifically not only looking for dramatic or action-filled sightings only but more emotional ones that might be sad, moving, funny, etc. And, ideally, from outside WildEarth’s own archive.
The plan is to do ten in early December, get your feedback, adjust where needed and do another 10 in January. We aim to have some of our current guides be the experts who will be speaking with the witnesses during these experiments. (Note: Since the town hall we’ve managed to secure James to be involved in the second half of January.)
If you do, please send these to . If we use them in our tests we will pay $30 to the ‘witness’ in return for licensing the footage and their time for being on Skype with the expert during the time-shifted sightings. (Some payment is required in order for us to legally acquire the rights to use these.)
These experiments will also be used to cut together a promo to be used before and during RealScreen in January too.
Graham thanked everyone for their support. WildEarth is on a mission to heal and improve people’s lives by providing a connection with nature. WE will remain fully confident that we will, with your help, find a way through our current challenges and come out on top and better than before.
Graham then ended with a heartfelt ‘thank you’ on behalf of all at WildEarth to two very special people without whose support none of this would have been possible.
Jurie and Pippa Moolman, thank you very much!