TBI’s Distributor’s Survey 2020 has provided deep insights into how the global content business is rapidly evolving and how things could change over the next 12 months. Here, Ian McKee, CEO of online marketplace Vuulr – sponsor of this year’s Survey – provides us with his insights
The TBI Distributor Survey takes stock of a year of change in the distribution business. While the immediate impact of the pandemic is apparent, it’s significant that the key issues that concern distributors all pre-date Covid, suggesting a deep structural shift in the business for a while now.
It’s safe to say that 2020 propelled the industry squarely into the new digital content economy, where streaming platforms are the dominant players with their global reach and valuable insight into audience behaviour, made possible by the internet. This has overturned the traditional power structures in the industry. The abundance of entertainment options at audiences’ fingertips has resulted in fragmentation and lower viewership numbers on a per channel per country basis for many traditional broadcasters, and this inevitably translates to diminishing acquisition budgets and a decrease in the value of each individual deal. This sentiment is echoed by distributors worldwide in the survey.
What does this mean for those in the business of selling content rights?
In the new digital content economy, it takes a mindset shift to embrace the uncomfortable evolution from ‘few first-window, high-value exclusive’ deals to ‘many non-exclusive & multi-territory.’
With the proliferation of platforms, the number of deal opportunities has increased many-fold for distributors that can achieve global reach for their distribution. To meet revenue targets, distributors have to source and manage many more deals than they are used to, finding the new, niche platforms that are hungry for content.
Opportunities not just for front catalogue, but also mid and back catalogue content – an untapped revenue stream for many distributors. Given the uncertainty of production timelines and rising costs associated with Covid protocols, it’s imperative for distributors to unlock the value of their entire catalogue.
Now, not only has managing rights and availability across multiple territories become much more complex; the way value is negotiated between buyer and seller has also changed. Streamers know – at an atomic level of granularity – who has watched what, for how long and when. This data is used to inform far more data-driven content choices and buying strategies, leading to a preference for performance-based pricing – a trend that is here to stay.
Today, speed and reach are crucial. Businesses must digitally transform their traditional, manual tool set, to move away from one-to-one pitching for each deal, whether it’s face-to-face or via a zoom video call, to a savvier way that provides better return on investment for content.
The new toolkit to release this value is about digital marketing and sophisticated digital platforms, such as the Vuulr content marketplace, which give distributors global reach and the ability to monetise their entire catalogue, negotiate and close deals directly with buyers from around the world.
On Vuulr, distributors are able to showcase content to close to 4,000 buyers worldwide, with an in-built screening room that comes with rights management, and an offer module that enables distributors to get proposals and offers in their inbox. Deals typically close in 10 days on Vuulr.
More than half of the respondents have started using digital distribution platforms and I foresee this trend continuing over the next 12 months. While a good first step, success will go to distributors who are quick to understand and adapt to the fact that the priorities of their customer have fundamentally changed. The new acquisition executive comes with a digital-first mindset and a data-driven content buying strategy.
See the rest of the TBI Distributor’s Survey: