The rights stuff

Spanish distribs revolutionizing content deals

MADRID – The rule for acquiring product used to be simple — thrash out huge package deals with a couple of U.S majors then flesh out skeds with local productions.

Say goodbye to all that. Prodded by TV deregulation, new pay and DTT operators are springing up in Spain like flowers after a desert storm.

In their wake, a new buying operation is blooming — the multi-rights distributor selling product down the TV window chain: free, pay, DTT, local, second pay, whatever.

The latest move was announced last week. Cartel CEO Eduardo Campoy says that Cartel-Telson is in talks with three other top production groups — Arbol, Boca and Cerezo — to create a rights-brokering operation, the PI Group, to pool their productions for sales abroad and in spain.

It won’t be the only new kid on Spain’s TV rights buyers block:

  • Estudios Picasso, the new studio of free-to-air broadcaster Tele 5, has created a rights-broking division under former Sogepaq exec Juan Carlos de Ory;

  • Pic distribber Manga Films could court deals for Spain and Latin America when Telefonica Media finalises its investment in it. It’s unlikely to restrict TV sales for Spain just to TM broadcaster Antena 3 and TM satcaster Via Digital;

  • Planeta 2010 has taken all Spanish rights on EMTV’s huge Junior kids catalogue, aiming to multi-platform sales to various TV windows.

“Every network in Spain will increasingly need to work its back catalogue, selling on titles to competitors, or placing it in first or second pay windows, for example,” says Ghislain Barrois, Estudios Picasso’s managing director.

Their origins of the new rights broking companies lie in commercial logic: the need to buy all rights to access top product and maximise its sales.

Yet, unless they tread delicately, their future could lie in a political minefield. “The key to buying all TV rights to product is not only the price paid, but also a distributor’s access to broadcast outlets,” says one Spanish distributor.

In Spain access depends not only on the product’s strength, but also political patronage.

Tele 5 can feel pretty comfy with its all rights acquisitions. They include such muscular product as epic mini series “The Count of Monte Cristo.” “And we can beat the hell out of promoting these titles on TV,” Barrois adds.

Cartel’s Campoy did not disclose further details about its rights-broking plans. But part could turn on Net TV, Spain’s new nationwide digital web, which is due to launch next January and is controlled by Arbol, fellow producer Cartel-Telson and publisher Prensa Espanola.

Net TV has a $22.5 million acquisition kitty for its first year, Lejarza says. But as a digital TV feed, its initial take-up will be a few hundred thousand viewers. Logic would see it teaming with other, more established broadcasters to share TV rights.

Spain’s new TV acquisition book now has a few rules. One is: don’t go it alone.

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