Shift the TV Program Rights Management Paradigm.

December 4, 2008

There is a reason Hulu is considered a “game changer” in the world  of online video and streaming television. The unique alliance of NBC and News Corp creates a cable operator of sorts – and aggregates content to deliver a unique place for consumers to start watching it. In the US.

There is similar news of some UK broadcasters coming together to create a VOD platform. I am sure other markets are taking similar initiatives.

In a world when every bit of data will be streamed over IP, do we think platforms such as these would have anything unique to offer? Or would such platforms become seemless backend cable operator type operations, delivering to TV sets of the future? In answering this question, one also needs to perhaps see what it is that really makes the video over internet popular? It is its ability to transcend beyond geographies that really delivers a web 2.0 experience that is the “buzz” today.

Now in this world, what really restricts the ability of platforms like Hulu to make a difference is the way TV software rights are managed. The programs are sold territory by territory, or to cable / satellite operators who pick it up for multi-territories. Even then, the prices are aggregated on a market by market basis. Couple that with how such program rights are sold for broadcast over the internet, and you have a matrix that is too complex to even begin to crack.

There is a need to change this model of TV or even Film program rights management. If one is to combat the piracy or onslaught of free digital distribution, the arbitrage in this trade has to end. What it needs to work around is a distributors ability to stream content across the globe, without restrictions and with potential to earn revenues from wherever in the world they come from.

One Response to “Shift the TV Program Rights Management Paradigm.”

  1. Alex Says:

    As film and TV production companies are specialised marketing consultants with access to (a diminishing amount of) credit, the model must incorporate risk assessment when it comes to making the decision on wether to make the loan.

    Although from the customer’s point of view the issue of rights management is complicated, it is about risk aggregation at the production end.

    If you are producer seeking funds for a film or TV series, you can use country-based distributors to take on the risk of buying rights for 10-15 years. That means you can use a table like the one at Once they have covered a safe proportion of their budget through pre-sales, they can start production.

    Given the varying abilities of local distributors to get different sums of money from consumers, who will take on the risk if the distributors are disintermediated by global distribution?

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