How Indie Outlets Like The Network and Dropout Are Making a Play for Eyeballs and Emmy Noms


I can’t help admiring the sheer audacity of Aram Rappaport. He’s the creator, writer and director behind “The Green Veil,” a drama series starring John Leguizamo that debuted with two episodes at the Tribeca fest in 2022. When he couldn’t find an outlet to pick up the full series, Rappaport decided to launch his own ad-supported streaming service — dubbed The Network — from scratch.

Set in the 1950s, “The Green Veil” takes on the history of oppression in America — and in particular, atrocities committed against the Indigenous community. Leguizamo plays a brutal FBI agent, and Rappaport believes the nature of the story was “something that’s just very hard to be greenlit anywhere else just because of the subject matter. So I feel like this is a perfect drama for us to launch with, and make a statement about what we’re trying to do with a platform like this.”

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The plan for The Network is to stream two series at a time, four times a year — which means just eight series annually. That includes a mix of homegrown originals like “The Green Veil” and acquired titles that are new to U.S. audiences — like “Chivalry,” a 2022 comedy-drama from the U.K.’s Channel 4 that stars Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani. (The Network has not yet announced its next batch of series.)

“We’re trying to not let things get lost,” Rappaport says. “Our goal is quality over quantity. The idea was to build this around a more retro feel, and a simpler network.” Hence simply calling it “The Network” — which to me seems like not a great idea from an SEO standpoint, as there are a lot of “networks.”

Nonetheless, when I recently got on the phone to hear how the launch was going (The Network and “The Green Veil” premiered on April 30), Rappaport wouldn’t give specific viewership numbers but said the show was seeing promising week-over-week growth.

Rappaport’s background is in indie film and commercials. He founded the creative ad agency The Boathouse, which means he already had an in-house production unit with the ability to market a streaming service and churn out assets on the production side.

“Without that facility to market this, I think it’d be a lot harder,” he says. “We have so many things that can support it. But even with that, from the ad-tech stack to the front end to the back end, the whole tech side is a challenge. It’s why people don’t do this. It’s crazy.”

The sell for The Network is quite understated: Rappaport says he didn’t want to overpromise on what he aims to deliver. The budgets on his shows will be smaller, and by keeping overhead low — the staff is made up of just 30 employees — he’s hoping to keep it going as a boutique operation. He’s quite philosophical about the fact that he’s providing a niche service in a land of big players: “It’s this idea that we’re going to give you eight originals a year. If you don’t like it, we’re not going to waste your time. If you do like it, it’s free.”

The Network is one of a handful of new players entering the Emmy race this year, along with Dropout — the subscription streamer, formerly known as CollegeHumor, that focuses on unscripted fare.

In making a play for Emmy noms, The Network believes it has a shot with Leguizamo — who has been a crucial brand ambassador in capturing awareness for both the platform and “The Green Veil.”

“He’s never had a lead in a drama series before in his life — he’s never had the opportunity,” says Rappaport. “We had to create a network for him to have that opportunity. If we can parlay that into Emmy love for John, that would be absolutely fantastic. … The hope is to prove that you don’t have to be one of the big monopolies to find legitimacy in the TV space.”

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