Content Business Now Global: What It Means for Streamers and Broadcasters

Now that entertainment is an internet delivered product, the brands that deliver it need to play by the internet’s rules.

The foundation is differentiation. In the endless sea of choices available to the audience today, one burning question for every brand is how to stand out. Such that audiences find you, stay, and then invite their friends.

Ian McKee

The only answer is by not playing it safe. As Seth Godin (the marketing author) says in Purple Cow,  in today’s cluttered landscape, playing it safe means you are, like many other brands out there, forgettable — condemning you to pay the advertising tax to keep reminding your audience that you exist.

The alternative is to be remarkable and differentiated in a way that is valuable to the audience, so that audiences make and repeat remarks about you to their network — which, in turn, reduces your cost of acquisition and retention. Think of the “buzz” around “Squid Game.”

The winds began to perceptibly shift in 2020, when Parasite and Bong Joon-ho won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. Beyond the validation those awards meant to a relatively unknown South Korean filmmaker and the value of diversity in storytelling, there was this revelation: Parasite,
acclaimed by critics and hailed as the first foreign-language film to win the top prize in the Oscars’ 92-year history, was also wildly popular in the key market of the United States.

A year later, we witnessed the same phenomenon in the streaming space when “Squid Game” captured the attention of viewers on Netflix.

“Squid Game” was made by Siren Pictures, a Korean-based outfit that had earlier made three films prior, none of which had gained traction outside of Korea. “Squid Games” was made with a production budget of $21 million for 10 episodes. Contrast the average $2 million per episode of “Squid Games” with “Stranger Things,” with its $12 million-per-episode budget.

Still, this was a risky bet. And, clearly, it paid off — only Netflix knows the absolute numbers in terms of acquisition and retention, but from a marketing perspective, it was a huge hit, with the title and Netflix shaping the global zeitgeist for weeks.

The signals are now undeniable: audiences have become receptive to excellent storytelling and quality content, whether or not it comes with subtitles and recognizable faces.

As the leader in the streaming-entertainment space, Netflix might have been tempted to rest on its success and hedge against its risk. Instead, in an industry that too often reacts slowly to change, the company understood the importance of bold, swift action.

Sticking with a proven formula is easy. It is comfortable. It requires no internal justification.

But it’s the wrong thing to do in today’s fierce battle for audiences.

Internet businesses need to be learning organizations, testing and learning over and over. Not every title will be a hit — nor should it be. If it is, then you’re not taking enough risks!

Acquisition teams should move out of their comfort zones and search for content that may not even have U.S. distribution. By the time it has, it is no longer as remarkable as it needs to be. Your competitors are just as able to pick it up as you are, so you gain no competitive advantage.

New, upcoming sources of production — Korea, Turkey, India, Nigeria (Nollywood) and, now, almost every other producer country — are where hidden gems are to be found.

For those without the infrastructure or scale of a Netflix, how can they go about the process of sourcing and discovery of content globally?

Digital solutions platforms help. Online content marketplaces have aggregated huge catalogs of content globally and now provide the convenience to buyers of a single destination in which to easily search for content, no matter where it originates. This allows acquisitions teams to look further than what has distribution locally.

With standardized metadata, in English, with trailers and screeners instantly available, online content marketplaces allow acquisition teams to quickly search for and evaluate titles to find those remarkable titles that will differentiate your platform.

Once you’ve acquired a piece of content, you can push it out and learn how it performs. If it moves the needle, turn up the marketing machine (as Netflix did for “Squid Game.”) Unique, objectively interesting content gets people talking. And word of mouth can be a powerful, organic promotional tool.

New pricing models, e.g. per viewer, per minute (or, if yours is an ad-funded platform, a percentage share of ad revenue) means that taking these more adventurous acquisition choices does not mean having to pay a flat rate and the platform taking all the risk.

In the end, there’s no magic formula or set of data points that can consistently predict which titles will hit and which won’t. Entertainment is a creative industry, and creating content is still principally an art rather than a science.

But by understanding your brand, your audience and precisely what you’re measuring for (retention? watch times? new subscribers?), you’ll have what you need to build a global acquisition strategy and truly differentiate your brand in a crowded, competitive market.

Ian McKee is the founder and CEO of Vuulr, an online global film and TV content marketplace with over 35,000 titles and 173,000 hours of content across 60 genres and 90 languages. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of technology, digital marketing and disruptive innovations. McKee was named by Business Insider as one of the top 10 leaders transforming media and advertising in Asia in 2020.

Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Partners With Supply Chain Solution Company Mediagenix

Vuulr, an online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with rights holders worldwide, has partnered with content supply chain solution company Mediagenix, which has the Whats’on Media Business Management Platform.

Through the partnership, Whats’on clients can now directly publish their content to the Vuulr platform, with both content metadata and avails automatically synched between Whats’on and Vuulr.

Content will be listed on Vuulr’s marketplace, which has more than 14,000 vetted and approved users, and on the Mediagenix Branded Marketplace that will feature content from Whats’on clients.

In addition, Whats’on clients will also be provided with a white labeled version of the Vuulr platform, with their own branding and showing exclusively their content.

“Mediagenix is at the forefront of digital transformation across the media and entertainment space with its Media Business Management Platform,” Vuulr CEO Ian McKee said in a statement. “We are delighted that Mediagenix selected Vuulr as a partner to provide media companies with an integrated and frictionless way to monetize all the available rights across their entire catalogue.”  

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“Vuulr has pioneered a market leading digital content marketplace providing a best-in-class capability for rights holders to transact deals online,” Mediagenix CEO Fabrice Maquignon said in a statement. “Now, our clients can take advantage of Vuulr’s platform to explore large catalogs, view screeners in Branded Screening Rooms, check avails and submit licensing offers 24/7 directly via Whats’on. By working together, we are able to provide our clients with a new way to monetize their content and to generate significant incremental content licensing revenue at marginal incremental cost.”

Content Marketplace Vuulr Partners With Kanal D

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers and distributors worldwide, has partnered with Kanal D International (KDI), the global business arm of Kanal D, the leading TV channel of Turkey broadcasting under Europe’s Demirören Media Group.

Under the partnership, Kanal D International will list 24 titles on the Vuulr platform totaling approximately 2,160 hours of content, mostly in the romantic comedy and premium drama genres. Among the titles that Kanal D International is listing on Vuulr are dramas Twist of Fate and Recipe of Love, along with “Hekimoglu,” which is the Turkish version of the hit U.S. scripted series “House.”

“We’re excited to team up with Vuulr to ensure our content continues to be distributed all across the globe,” executive director at Kanal D International Ekin Koyuncu Karaman said in a statement. “There’s been an increasing demand for Turkish content worldwide. Vuulr’s global reach makes it easier  to get our titles into the hands of broadcasters and streaming platforms regardless of their location or time zone.”

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“As the demand for international content continues to soar, we’re delighted to expand the breadth of the catalogue available on Vuulr with this exciting partnership with Kanal D International, which will bring more than 2,000 hours of premium new Turkish series to our platform,” Vuulr chief content officer Natasha Malhotra said in a statement. “Their heartwarming dramas and world-class production have universal appeal and Vuulr makes this content available to buyers from around the world in a simple, frictionless way as we continue our mission to transform the distribution and acquisition ecosystem.”

There are currently more than 30,000 unique films and TV titles available on Vuulr, amounting to more than 173,000 hours of content from 7,000 sellers in more than 120 countries, offering buyers a destination for content discovery and acquisition.

DEG Slates Virtual Expo on ‘Localization’ on Thursday, June 17

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this week will host a DEG Expo on the rapidly growing business of content localization, including viewpoints from content owners and technology providers.

The virtual event, called “The Expanding World of Localization,” will be held Thursday, June 17, beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT.

Featured speakers include Mark Howorth, president of the Iyuno-SDI Group, who will discuss the state of the localization industry. Dolby’s Tom McAndrew, senior technical manager of content relations, and Javier Foncillas, VP of commercial partnerships for Europe, will speak about the global demand for immersive audio.

An executive roundtable led by Vuulr CEO Americas Thomas Hughes will discuss the potential and pain points for localization, including workflows, terminology, talent management, DEI and the role of AI in content localization. Participants include James Hurrell, head of content and localization, global operations, for  BBC Studios; Chris Reynolds, EVP and GM of worldwide localization and fulfillment at Deluxe; Gray Ainsworth, EVP of global technical operations and servicing at Lionsgate; and Andrea Sconza, director of localization services at Vubiquity. More perspective on innovating with AI will be shared by Craig Seidel, CTO of Pixelogic, in conversation with Spherex CEO Teresa Phillips and Respeecher CEO Alex Serdiuk.

DEG Expo: The Expanding World of Localization is free to media industry professionals, but registration is required.

To register,  click here.

The full agenda can be found here.

Content Marketplace Company Vuulr Adds Two Execs

Vuulr, a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, has added two senior film industry executives. Daniel Gagliardi will serve as SVP of business development and strategy for the Americas. Andrew Marshall joins the team as head of legal and commercial partnerships.

“Great tech on its own is not enough, its needs to be wrapped with great support from industry experts who fully understand the challenges our buyers and sellers face in their business today,” Ian McKee, Vuulr’s global CEO, said in a statement. “I’m really excited to have Daniel and Andrew onboard as we scale the business.”

Gagliardi will lead efforts to help further develop the company’s growing position as a global online content marketplace for film and television rights, using his extensive and recent experience as both a content buyer and seller.

“As the content seller who helped drive the global rollout of services like Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, and others, I know first hand the need for quick, efficient and strategic content licensing,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “What excites me most about Vuulr is our ability to transform the business of content licensing, not only with such a large selection of content, but by also offering hyper-local/regional content to help channels and platforms of all types expand around the globe.”

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Prior to joining the Vuulr team, Gagliardi was head of content at Vudu, a Walmart company, where he was responsible for building and leading the content partnerships team. During his tenure, Vudu debuted its first original television series, its first original film, commissioned a dozen additional originals, and partnered with hundreds of content licensors, including Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, MGM and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. He also worked at Lionsgate where he was VP of worldwide television and digital distribution. In this role he built and led the company’s ad-supported licensing team, forging and overseeing deals with Hulu, YouTube, Tubi, Pluto TV, Roku, Amazon and Crackle, among others.

Marshall has held positions at ESPN STAR Sports, NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company.

“I am excited to join Vuulr as they pioneer the transformation of distribution and acquisition,” Marshall said in a statement. “Bringing the efficiencies of doing business online is a critical success factor for the industry as it transforms and the new normals emerge. Vuulr is on the leading edge of enabling this change which brings benefits to Buyers, Sellers and Audiences.”

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Marshall brings a deep understanding of the evolving legal, regulatory commercial landscape for media and entertainment companies, gained from working at leading industry players, according to a Vuulr press release. Marshall was previously general counsel and SVP of legal and business affairs at ESPN STAR Sports and a regional counsel for all lines of business in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia at The Walt Disney Company, with a focus on content licensing, including theatrical distribution, studio marketing and home entertainment. More recently, he was commercial director for Universal brand development, where he grew the character licensing business for NBCUniversal in Southeast Asia.

Vuulr launched in January 2019 as a global online content marketplace for film and TV rights that connects buyers with content sellers worldwide, providing both with a platform to negotiate and transact directly and securely. The company connects buyers and distributors regardless of time zone or geography, providing an opportunity to access an always-on, diverse selection of mainstream and niche content.

The Vuulr online sales platform currently features content from producers and distributors across the globe, comprising more than 23,000 titles/135,000 hours, across more than 60 genres and 70 languages. Vuulr aims to slash the cost, effort, and time involved in doing transactions for the industry, and licensing transactions on Vuulr close, on average, in 10 days, according to the company.

Live Online Global Content Pitch Event Debuts Sept. 9

A new live global webcast presentation, Content Market Live, launches Sept. 9 in association with Vuulr, Boom! and C21 Media.

The event, taking place local time at 11 a.m. in Los Angeles, London and Singapore, is designed to make the buying and selling of newly finished content rights quicker and easier in the face of content supply chain issues and social distancing restrictions. It is not designed for screenings, but as a global interactive pitch event and is “unique in the content industry,” according to organizers.

The event is free for buyers and allows them to engage in one-on-one Q&As with distributors, watch pitch presentations of content broadcast live in their time zone, and negotiate directly with distributors online.

The event also includes the ability to see on-demand trailers and screeners and check avails.

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All Vuulr buyers are pre-registered.

Registrants have access 15,000-plus titles and 96,000-plus hours of programming on Vuulr.

Register here.