Peerflix/Live Universe is a deadbeat

Time to go public about this, as my online-movie-critiquing colleague Eric Snider has.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was approached by Peerflix, the DVD-trading company, which was setting up an advertising network geared to movie-related Web sites and wanted me to join up. The idea was that once enough respected movie-related sites were onboard, Peerflix would be able to go to advertisers with a big movie-related block of sites, and it would be Good Stuff for everyone involved: for webmasters like me, who’d maxmize the revenue-generating potential of our sites; for readers like you, because ads would be geared to stuff you might actually want to know about; and for advertisers, who would be able to get interested eyeballs in front of their ads. In the interim, while that network of quality sites was being assembled, Peerflix would guarantee a certain minimum level of ad revenue to webmasters. I agreed, even though that minimum was just barely above what I had been earning, on average, from the ad network I was with at the time, because the potential for greater earnings and ads that were more related to my content seemed promising.
Fast-forward to this summer. Everything had been fine: checks for the guaranteed-minimum were coming in regularly, even though, according to the reports Peerflix was sending, the actual revenue for my adspace hardly ever approached said minimum (part of the reason for that surely had to do more with the unfocused and repetitious quality of the ads, not with my traffic). But then Peerflix was bought out by Live Universe, a self-proclaimed “leading entertainment company.” As Eric explained, the checks stopped coming. At first, this didn’t seem too terrible: my Peerflix accounting contact asked me to submit new tax-reporting forms, and then said that payment would be slightly delayed. Fine: that’s what happens when companies take over other companies — there’s a bumpy transition period.

Fast-forward to today, though. I haven’t seen a check since July. I’m owed three months’ worth of that contractually guaranteed minimum, plus a prorated slice of that for October through this morning, when I finally said, Fuck it, and took down the Peerflix ads and replaced them with those of my prior ad network, which had never, ever stiffed me. It’s not an enornmous sum of money, as Live Universe would tally it — the company is still stressing in its media kit [warning: PDF] that it is “one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks,” with 56 million unique visitors per month and that it is “a top-tier solution for all of your advertising needs” — but it is almost the equivalent of a month’s rent on my apartment (before I pay self-employment-level taxes in that income, that is), which, you know, would come in quite handy right about now, with the first of the month barrelling down on us again.

So, not that I think it will have much impact at all on a company that appears to be stiffing its own employees on their pay, not to mention lots of other small-fry Netizens, but I want to take this public opportunity to announce that Live Universe is a deadbeat, and that I intend to sue them for the money they owe me, plus court costs, if they don’t pay up immediately. I would also ask that you, my dear readers, avoid patronizing any of Live Universe’s businesses — such as Live Video — if you can.

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