In an interview with TV writer Alan Sepinwall, Aziz said he’d actually been planning to release a stand-up special online before Louis C.K. made his plans to do so public knowledge, largely because doing so allows for easier international distribution.
So this was well before Louis C.K. announced that he was going to release the Beacon special himself. What was your plan with this?
Yes. I paid for the special myself, because I knew I wanted to release it online in some fashion. I saw how many people had watched clips from my old special on YouTube, and there were things that were frustrating me. Internationally, it was hard to get my special in other places. I was in India in December and I met kids who had seen a few things online, but that was it. They couldn’t get more than that.
So I thought it would be cool to release it online, uncensored and so anyone could get it. I was trying to figure out the best way to do it. And then a few weeks before Louis did his thing, I went over to his house and watched the special. He wanted someone else to put eyes on it, and he told me how he was going to do it. I thought, “That’s interesting.” But I wasn’t sure if it would work. Would people download files that big? Would enough people find out about it without traditional marketing? And, of course, it was a huge success.
Immediately after he did it, I started getting so many questions from people online: When are you going to do something like that? It just seemed like, clearly he hit a nerve, it was something that people liked. It seemed like that would be the best way to do it. After he took the risks, it seemed like a good idea to do it the same way.
Additionally, Ansari touched on the issue of piracy — specifically how he’s not worried about the special being pirated because he’s making access to it easy and cheap.
As he released that special, Louis said a lot of things online to try to discourage people from pirating it, and obviously that worked out. What did you learn from what he did?
As far as piracy goes, there’s a lot of surveys I’ve seen where if you make it easy to buy and give it at a fair price, people won’t steal it. A lot of the reason people steal things is that it’s easier. As an internet user, I believe that. Sometimes, it’s just frustrating to figure out the legal method. “It’s not on iTunes, it’ snot on Netflix, where is this fucking show? I’m just going to steal it.” I think Louis made it very clear that, “This is me, this is not Viacom. I’m just a dude, I paid for this myself. Let’s not screw me over.” With mine, I think people will understand it’s the same thing, that it’s my own money and easy to buy.
Here’s a promo/preview…