SALTO Programming and Content Manager Natacha Lecsei about managing the supply chain for over 10,000 hours of content on a streaming platform owned by 3 competing TV giants.
Read in this interview about
- Managing the content supply chain for over 10,000 hours of content
- A standard solution with a minimum of customizations
- Bespoke functionality for compliance monitoring
- Integration in the SALTO ecosystem
- The immediate benefits of the Cloud
- Implementation against a tight deadline
How to plan over 10,000 hours of series, films, documentaries, and youth content on a platform owned by 3 competing giants in the French audiovisual industry? Who better to ask than Natacha Lecsei, Programming and Content Manager at SALTO, the French TV and streaming offer. SALTO is co-owned by the private channels TF1 and M6, as well as the public broadcaster France Télévisions. Together with the acquisition teams Natacha Lecsei defines the best launch periods for the content and makes sure the SALTO content catalogue is well balanced and in compliance with the prescribed quotas.
What are the main challenges of working together with three competing French media giants, one of which is public?
N.L.: “Even though they have teamed up in this three-way joint venture, they are indeed still major competitors on the French market. That is why SALTO has commitments with France’s Competition Authority. These commitments are there to make sure that their association does not become a means of gaining a dominant position on the market for the acquisition of SVOD rights and distribution. We are closely supervised. Every four months they monitor our compliance.”
How do you go about this kind of strictly regulated collaboration?
N.L.: “We work with each parent company separately, deciding which programmes of their own respective grid to put up and what is most relevant for SALTO. Negotiations about rights and delivery are conducted exactly as you would do with any distributor.”
“We needed a powerful tool for the calculations for monitoring our commitments with the Competition Authority.”
What requirements does a system that manages the content supply chain have to meet in this environment?
N.L: “We knew we needed a system that was as standard as possible and that we would adapt to the system rather than adapt the system to us. We had to avoid over-customization if we wanted a system that was easy to upgrade and remained as effective after any number of upgrades.
There were, however, two key points that did need customization.
Firstly, publication to the back end of the platform and the interface with our tool for online publication and front-end management.
Secondly, the calculations for monitoring our commitments. I am talking about the commitments that the parent companies and SALTO made with France’s Competition Authority to be allowed to launch the platform, in particular the commitments that restrict SALTO’s freedom to acquire SVOD rights exclusively from parent companies. We have calculations for that. Although they are quite simple, the implementation is rather complex because it takes into account the duration of content and the number of days that content that has been exclusively acquired from a parent company is available on the platform. We had to be able to configure all of this in the tool. The calculation functionality needed to be developed quickly and had to be powerful enough to ensure that we were meeting our commitments.
After the RFP process, these two considerations convinced us that MEDIAGENIX was the best partner for us. We saw that the WHATS’ON module for quotas was effective. We also felt that MEDIAGENIX fully understood our challenges.
Also, we had to act quickly, and we felt that with MEDIAGENIX we would be able to meet our deadlines. The deadlines were quite tight. We started working with the MEDIAGENIX team in March 2020 for the launch in October. So it’s been 7 months of intensive work.”
How did the implementation and customization go?
N.L.: “I set up WHATS’ON myself although I’m not from Tech at all. This says a lot about WHATS’ON and the great support we got from MEDIAGENIX for the implementation, but also regarding recommendations for the configuration. There weren’t a lot of people available on our side, certainly from a technical point of view. Our teams are small. But MEDIAGENIX had factored that in. They truly grasped the particular nature of our organization and the speed that was required. The trainers were of great help, too.”
You went completely to the cloud with WHATS’ON, how did that pan out for you?
N.L.: “That decision has already paid off in more than one way. For one thing, new releases are implemented seamlessly. Another advantage became clear a few days after we started the WHATS’ON implementation project when the pandemic put us in confinement. All training sessions with the MEDIAGENIX teams were remote, and that was very efficient. I don’t know how we would have managed if the software had to be installed on our computers and we had to meet in person each time. So we are happy with our choice.”
“This makes WHATS’ON a sort of standard on the market, that is both flexible and robust.”
The fact that TF1, France TV, and M6 have chosen WHATS’ON, too, is that a plus for SALTO?
N.L.: “It is reassuring. It proves that SALTO, a newcomer on the market, has chosen the same solution as its stakeholders and numerous other actors on the market. This makes WHATS’ON a sort of standard on the market, that is both flexible and robust.”
For what exactly are you using WHATS’ON now?
N.L.: “There are now six WHATS’ON users. We use WHATS’ON for short-term programming, for organizing the publication windows, and verifying whether we have all the required information. In WHATS’ON we manage both contract information and editorial metadata, such as summaries and castings. This allows us to keep an overview of the content we have and the data we lack.
WHATS’ON gives us a very intuitive tool for managing rights, short-term publication, monitoring quotas and competition commitments, and it helps us a lot in automating these tasks.
WHATS’ON interfaces with a media sourcing platform so that we can place our orders, link the received media assets to the right products in WHATS’ON, and publish everything.
Now we also want to use WHATS’ON for long-term programming, on a graphic overview of the year. That was one of our requirements. We need a clear visual rendering of our long-term plan so that we don’t have to work in Excel as we currently do. Unlike a TV channel, we have thousands of hours of content available at any given moment, and we are now finding out how best to put all that in the long-term planning with WHATS’ON.
We will keep relying on MEDIAGENIX for advice on the best way to achieve specific goals. They have the expertise and the know-how they acquired from similar projects with other media groups.”
Natacha Lecsei about SALTO
“We offer over 10,000 hours of series, films, documentaries, and youth content of all the big brands of French creation, which is content from TF1, France TV, and M6, as well as exclusive content acquired by SALTO. We aim to give our subscribers the best possible offer within economic and editorial constraints.
We also stream the channels of TF1, France TV, and M6 live and in replay, as well as pay-tv channels of the parent groups, such as Paris Première. About 20 in all. In some cases our subscribers can watch content before it premières on TV. For instance, they get access to the daily episodes of their favourite soaps 48 hours before the episodes are broadcast. So you could say that SALTO is both an SVOD service and a TV channel distributor. We bring together the best of unlimited TV and streaming.”