TBI Tech & Analysis: Pulling back the curtain on online content sales

Ian McKee

Ian McKee, CEO of online distribution service Vuulr, provides a sneak peak into some of the key trends emerging from the thousands of ‘deal negotiations’ his company has facilitated over recent months and reveals which countries are embracing online sales the most.

Fast, diverse and global – these are the key takeaways from a deep dive into the numbers behind Vuulr.

Using a sample size of 3,000 deal negotiations or ‘journeys’ (the term we use for acquisitions executives logging in, searching, finding a piece of content they like and making an acquisition offer or asking for a proposal from the seller), the breakdown of buyers and sellers on Vuulr reveals a large – and often surprising – spread of territorial activity on our platform, as well as plenty of diversity in terms of both content and users.

As the old saying goes, the numbers speak for themselves. We’re now listing 13,000 TV and film titles, amounting to more than 85,000 hours of content ready for buyers across the world to purchase through a completely frictionless process. We added 30,000 hours in the last quarter, which is encouraging news since more than 5,000 users have registered and been approved – 3,400 are sellers and 2,400 are buyers (and some are both).

Indeed, we are finding that the platform is streamlining the negotiation process and our analysis shows that, on average, deals are completed in 8.4 days – far shorter than the 3-6 months it often takes to land a deal in the traditional physical market.

But where are the territorial disparities? And who’s buying what?

Country breakdown by buyer (click to enlarge)

Buying activity

Rather unsurprisingly, US buyers are the most active on Vuulr, with a total of 31% of these deal journeys originating from American buyers. As one of the world’s largest media markets this is to be expected. But American dominance on Vuulr can also be put down to the US being a nation of people who are generally early adopters of digital technology, comfortable seeking out new ways of doing business and embracing new digital technologies to gain an advantage.

Some way behind the US are Australia and India at 19% and 14%, respectively. India is a large and continually growing market and we’re finding that companies there are purchasing content both for domestic and international audiences.

Australia, on the other hand, does as it often does and punches way above its weight, in a similar vein to US buyers who are leaning into technology heavily and heralding new ways of doing business.

Yet only just ahead of this club is the UK, on a relatively small activity level, representing just 4% of the activity on the platform – the same percentage as Mongolia!

The reasons for the UK’s lower showing? I can only speculate as a Brit myself that this is because we are a slightly more conservative bunch, who are a little slower to adopt new technology than our cousins over the pond. That said, we foresee that the UK’s activity on Vuulr will grow, particularly as it is the sixth largest media economy in the world, according to a PWC study.

From the outset, what’s been great to see is a wide range of buyers using the platform with the likes of Spain, Slovenia, Israel, New Zealand, Russia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan and many others, all accounting for 1% of buyer activity each. Indeed, the platform is host to a wonderful diversity of buyers, representing over 54 countries, showing we are well on the way to fulfil our objective of creating a truly global platform for sellers to reach buyers everywhere.

Country breakdown by seller (click to enlarge)

Selling activity

On the selling side of the platform, again we’re seeing that the UK is much slower to adapt, with UK sellers representing only 4% of all the acquisition journeys.

So my message to British content businesses – both buyers and sellers – is that there is now a real opportunity to gain a larger slice of the pie and ramp up sales to a whole new range of online buyers.

US sellers lead the field in terms of selling activity on the platform at 43%. Again, this is unsurprising, America is after all one of the largest exporters of content in the world.

When seen in the context of the US leading the buying activity too, we see that American buyers are buying American content on Vuulr in great numbers, and we expect this trend to continue going forward. What’s pleasing is the diversity of territories (over 56 Countries) who are successfully selling their content through the platform. It aligns with our ‘democratisation of access to distribution’ philosophy that anyone from any territory can get distribution and have their content seen and bought by buyers worldwide.

Genre breakdown (click to enlarge)

Diversity of genres & binning the ’80:20′ rule

When it comes to the different genres buyers and sellers are bargaining for, drama certainly leaps off the page. But this top genre still only represents 15% of the total, which is a relatively small percentage. Comedies, thrillers and action content account for the next few portions of the but soon you’re into a wide range of 45-plus content types.

Here, we find that the 80:20 rule does not apply. It takes the top 22 genres – ie approximately 50% of the list, to account for 80% of the sales on the platform. What this speaks to is that Vuulr is a truly inclusive platform supporting a huge diversity of content transactions – it doesn’t matter whether you’re buying or selling specialist art-house content, mainstream cinema or sports documentaries, all genres have a good chance of selling well.

This gives a real boost to content makers who want to make interesting, edgy, non-vanilla content. On Vuulr, as you can see, great content – no matter if mainstream or niche – has a real chance of getting picked up, from anywhere around the globe.

For now, the Americans are leading the way, but there are also some real opportunities for other countries to catch up, and buy and sell at incredibly quick speeds. I’m fascinated to see what the second half of 2020 brings and to see how the range of buyers, sellers and content on Vuulr will broaden even further.

So as we continue our mission to transform distribution and acquisition in the film and TV ecosystem, we are hopeful that the above numbers demonstrate that Vuulr is a truly fast, diverse and global platform with a tremendous breath of opportunity.

If anything is to be taken away it is that firstly, content sellers are making good sales of both mainstream and niche content on the platform. Secondly, sellers are reaching and gaining revenue from buyers all over the world.

For buyers, there is a huge opportunity to find great content that’s a fit for your audience, and it provides convenience and speed allowing you to be more strategic in your acquisition activity. For both, there’s a real opportunity to make gains in this new way of doing business.


Tags: Vuulr

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