Interview with Tom Donoghue, Business Development Manager MEDIAGENIX, by Jim Bottoms, Director MESA Europe, at the MESA Content Rights Workshop in London (May 2019).
Jim Bottoms – One of the Round Table discussions was focussed on Keeping Rights relevant Today and Tomorrow. If we focus first on the ‘today’, what are the key factors impacting on content rights that have changed in the recent past that we need to be aware of to stay relevant?
Tom Donoghue – Traditionally for a BMS system ‘rights’ meant consumption. However, the way in which we consume content has changed dramatically. Just to stand still and keep up with the basics is a complex operation. What do I need to enter into my scheduling system in order to track and manage my ability to schedule content? Runs, exhibitions, licence windows, … Add in multiple platforms, devices, locations, VoD, Catch Up, OTT and it very quickly becomes a matrix. Broadcasters need to know what they own or can exploit to be able to keep offering their viewers what they want. Linking Linear to Catch-Up has driven a lot of change. Knowing what you have rights for right now has never been more imperative. But it is still hugely important to have that direct link between what you own and what you consume and to have that updated automatically in your scheduling system.
JB – What are some of the factors that you think will change the way we need to manage rights in the future?
TD – Rights Out, consumption tracking, the ability to scale, the complexity of finance calculations, open and accessible systems … these are some of the areas where I see changes in the way we traditionally manage rights.
“Rights Out, consumption tracking, the ability to scale, the complexity of finance calculations, open and accessible systems … these are some of the areas where I see changes in the way we traditionally manage rights.”
Rights Out is about selling offers to third parties. As more and more broadcasters are looking to make and sell their own content, it is hugely important that they have their available inventory at their fingertips to make offers to buyers.
Also, by tracking consumption they can check titles that are being sold in markets where they operate. They can track blackout periods, hiatuses and so on.
With ability to scale I mean that broadcasters are dealing with huge volumes of content and need to get feedback from ever growing numbers of viewers – DTC, or Direct to Consumer broadcasting, is taking off in a big way. Broadcasters are also interacting to aggregate content from multiple sources. Think of multitenant platforms.
Then there is the complexity of finance calculations. Examples are royalty payments, the multiple revenue streams, and pricing of events based on geotags.
The last factor I mentioned was open and accessible systems. With APIs that are documented and maintained, data can be moved at scale between systems.
JB – You talked about using rights and licence windows to drive other workflows.
TD – Broadcasters can for instance handpick titles for scheduling by running complex queries on content catalogues; they can have their catch-up scheduling automatically driven from the linear schedule; they can adapt the flights of a title on its nonlinear avail path according as the VoD offer changes over time regarding price, category etcetera. Other examples are media workflows, including image resizing and transcoding, and interaction with Digital Rights systems or CDNs.
JB – You also referred to unknown rights. Would you care to expand on that?
TD – This is something we have come across that is particular to Sports rights. A broadcaster might purchase a block of soccer games for a tournament. The results of the tournament could determine what you show next. Take the World Cup. Your country could win, or lose and get knocked out. Being able to automatically update these rights is important so the schedule has the most up-to-date information regarding participants.
JB – Is there anything else that you think needs to be considered in order to keep Content Rights relevant for the future?
TD – A topic that has come up with more and more regularity over the last 12 months is eSports. It will be very interesting to see what impact this has on broadcasting and how the business adapts to it.
Traditional broadcasters are starting to buy more and more eSports rights and are looking to engage an audience that has eluded them of late. eSports publishers such as Valve and Blizzard are now selling rights to broadcasters. Broadcasting live and VoD eSports content has traditionally happened via the likes of Twitch — owned by Amazon—, Panda TV and YouTube.
There is a need to track the ability to sponsor content and to fulfil obligations.
JB – And finally, how do secondary and merchandise rights play into all of this?
TD – Rights are expanding way beyond what is needed for scheduling in a traditional way. So on top of linear and nonlinear rights broadcasters now want to record in one place underlying rights — payments for actors, producers, directors, etc. Ancillary rights like mobile ring tones, games, websites, eBooks, competitions are also being tracked. We even came across a client who was tracking rights for McDonalds toys linked to the content they were purchasing.