Vistex Manager: Simple Contract Management Tools are More Important Than Ever

As the number of non-traditional video content distribution platforms continue to expand, having a set of easy-to-use content and contracts management tools are more important than ever for film and TV distributors, according to Tom Royds, Vistex account manager-TV & film.

“We want to reinforce the idea that contracts are there to help, not hinder you,” he said Dec. 6 while kicking off his presentation during the webinar “Cut Through the Contract.”

Challenges that distributors have long faced include content release windows and managing content lifecycles, he noted. Only a few years ago, that included dealing with theaters, the hospitality sector (hotels and airlines), optical disc rentals and retail sales, broadcast TV, TV syndication and pay TV, he pointed out. With the rise of online distribution, that’s expanded to also include premium home cinema, transactional video-on-demand (VOD) rentals, electronic sellthrough, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), ad-funded video-on-demand (AVOD) and free-to-stream video-on-demand (FVOD), he said.

There’s “a lot more going on at the tail end” of the distribution process, on the digital side of the equation, he said, pointing to the various new VOD business models.

With windowing, distributors must still keep buyers happy by juggling things like exclusivity and term dates, he said. But, as a result of the expanded number of distribution models, there are many more contracts to consider, he noted.

When acquiring content rights, working on co-productions or licensing content rights, distributors must be clear on what rights they are actually buying, including what markets are included in the rights, what languages are spoken in those markets, whether subtitles are needed, and — if the content is a TV show – what episodes are covered by the rights, he said. Additional details to track include whether there’s a “holdback” on free TV and whether there are restrictions for certain markets and other factors, he pointed out.

Royds went on to demonstrate how his company’s cpRights content and contracts management tool can help distributors better exploit their content libraries and manage all their back-office work in one place. He showed, in real time, how to bring a contract live, find and sell all available content to meet sales goals, and demonstrated how invoicing can be easier than ever before. He also demonstrated how cpRights allows users to search for avails in seconds and track overdue payments.

CpRights is one of two applications, along with cpBookings, that make up cpOnline, the cloud-based suite of Web applications Vistex released early last year. The applications enable film and TV distributors – especially independent ones – to “maximize revenue from their libraries by exploiting all available rights across multiple territories, languages and media,” it said at the time.

The TV and film distribution market is “looking fairly good” and “healthy” over the next 12 months, Royds also said during the webinar, pointing to a recent TBI Distributors Survey that found 64% of those polled expected the market to improve over that period. That’s in spite of all the challenges that include the rise of new distribution platforms and increased competition, he said. Also in spite of those new platforms, “traditional platforms definitely seem to be where the money still is” in many cases, he said.