In today’s challenging rights universe, you need more than a good idea to keep the cash rolling in. Rights Tracker’s Ross Bentley identifies 10 rights-related issues that no producer or distributor can afford to ignore…
1. Know your rights
Do you know what assets and rights you have and where they are? You do? Congratulations! You’re in the minority, judging from the number of conversations we have with content-owners who have no idea what rights and assets they hold. Only by knowing the true extent of your content can you begin to exploit your assets fully.
2. Shamelessly exploit
If you’re not across your rights, chances are you aren’t exploiting them optimally. Or you may be erring on the side of caution with regards to exploitation lest you breach a legal obligation. But as a business owner, it’s your duty to maximise the value of your assets by finding as many potential windows of exploitation. And this not only applies to finished programming, but also to your clips and rushes.
3. Sweat the small stuff
There are more and more platforms and devices via which you can exploit your content. But again, you need granular knowledge of your rights to exploit these emerging opportunities. For the majority of rights-owners, the game is no longer about selling broadly defined rights in a few large deals. Your licensing structure is now more likely to take the form of a multitude of smaller deals. Lots of little deals mean lots of little details — so define your rights as clearly and as precisely as possible.
4. Contracts are key
Have your contracts to hand — and make sure you understand them. Many a deal has gone someone else’s way because of an inability to decipher the legal jargon. Don’t miss out on deals by being unable to respond quickly, confidentially and correctly to interest in your properties.
5. Make value judgements
Make sure you know where the real value lies in your content. New premium content will always be sought after by distributors, but don’t ignore your back catalogue. Have you considered that your previous 10 years’ worth of titles, clips and rushes could match the value of your most recent work? So start thinking outside the traditional sales cycles and begin to make long-term revenue from your back catalogue.
6. Dirty data
A major issue — and one we encounter all too often — is the problem of inaccurate or incomplete records, which effectively means that content-owners are unable to exploit their assets to the full. The metadata around your properties is important for the online and social-video platforms, which require more information about programming in order to make it easier to find it and sort it in a non-linear world.
7. Virtually there
It’s now possible to set up and run a real-time global marketplace for your content, using browsers to discover, preview and buy from you online. Time to make money while you sleep, perhaps?
8. Survival of the quickest
Can you adapt to the latest market opportunity? In the future, your content may well be shown on platforms that presently don’t exist. Even if your contracts and masters are readily available, how easily are you able to react, contractually and physically, to market developments? If you have your rights and assets available and versioned online, complete with good metadata, you can respond rapidly to any opportunity.
9. Unjoined-up thinking
Wouldn’t it be nice if your rights, assets, marketing and finance systems all talked to each other? This is now possible, thanks to systems such as The Assetry, which orchestrates everything from concepts to production agreements to sales data — all crossed-checked with your content — via an intuitive web-based portal. Integration drives efficiency, which drives value, and is therefore well worth investing in.
10. Know your worth
Only by knowing the extent and value of your content can you put a price on your company. To do that you need to understand your programming’s exploitation history, its actual and future value, and what markets, broadcasters and demographics are potential targets. Do you know where your content stands the best chance of being bought, territory by territory and platform by platform? This information can easily be extracted if your deals and contracts are centrally logged and managed. You can even predict future values based on deal flow.
Addressing these issues will help make money, save money and improve internal processes. In addition, many rights-owning companies are aiming to be acquired — in which case, efficient rights and asset management is not only integral to putting a value on your business, but will make you a much attractive proposition to a potential buyer.
Ross Bentley was previously development manager at Granada International, working closely with directors to help strategise both new programme acquisition funding and sales activities. He founded Rights Tracker in 2004, to provide content-owners with a means of managing their ever-expanding, increasingly complex rights portfolios.