×

VOD platforms form building blocks to profit

AFM Preview 2012

Independent film sellers are finding that the patchwork of overseas video-on-demand platforms represent a godsend due to competition for exclusives within territories and mushrooming aggregate sales.

With fragmentation, many VOD outfits outside the United States pay low fees, but a strategy to mount short-term exclusive deals with one platform as a building block for additional ancillary deals is emerging.

For example, U.K.-based Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment licensed documentary “Something for Nothing: The Art of Rap” with iTunes in the U.K. for a two-week exclusive window in September. While all of Kaleidoscope’s titles are accessible on iTunes and other VOD platforms, the music doc got extra iTunes promotion during the period. “If you have a film with strong reviews and good word of mouth, that will help stimulate the later physical DVD sales as well,” says Spencer Pollard, CEO of Kaleidoscope.

Popular on Variety

For many indie films, VOD in many territories doesn’t pay minimum guarantees but simply a cut of the revenue or a small license fee that amounts to a few thousand dollars. But those payouts can pile up from multiple territories.

In a survey of its member sales companies, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) found the number of VOD and subscription-VOD platforms increasing sharply in international territories from 2011 to 2012. For example, Japan went from 14 VOD/SVOD platforms to 18, and the United Kingdom from 10 to 15 in just one year.

The multitude of VOD platforms contrasts with subscription TV, which tend have one or two behemoths in each territory — one for cable and one for satellite TV.

Media researcher SNL Kagan sees a dramatic upturn in aggregate international digital VOD/pay-per-view revenue for motion pictures, going from just $9.9 million outside the U.S. in 2009 to $224.6 million this year. That’s for online movie VOD overseas, excluding VOD on subscription TV platforms.

“Everybody has been talking about VOD taking off since the late 1990s,” says Bill Anderson, IFTA vice president, research and strategic analysis. “What we didn’t take in account back then is that people didn’t have the broadband capabilities to download. Now broadband penetration in the major markets is deep.”

Films from Hollywood’s majors take a big chunk of the growing overseas sales, but indies are tapping the windfall. Malte Probst, vice president PPV and VOD at Sky Deutschland, Germany’s top subscription TV platform, notes that indies excel among those who appreciate edgy films, and also horror and arthouse genres. Sky Deutschland’s capacity for storing VOD titles on settop boxes will go from 40 to 350 with new hardware rolling out to its satellite TV subscribers.

Chinese VOD platform Youku Tudou also likes acquiring independent movies because they represent a better value than major studio titles, says Huilong Zhu, VP, movies and corporate business development. VOD is catching on with Chinese consumers as Youku Tudou finds movies generate five to six times the consumer buy rates than comparable titles when first launched.

Return to the American Film Market 2012 main page

More Film

  • The Case

    Bac Films Closes Deals on Psychological Thriller 'The Case'

    Bac Films has closed several deals on Bernard Stora’s “The Case,” a psychological thriller set in the South of France starring Niels Arestrup (“At Eternity’s Gate,” “A Prophet”). The film had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris, a five-day showcase of French movies wrapping on Jan. 20. Arestrup stars [...]

  • #iamhere

    Gaumont Clinches Deals on French-Korean Romcom '#iamhere' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont has clinched a raft of deals on Eric Lartigau’s Korea-set romantic comedy #iamhere which had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French cinema in Paris. Headlined by Alain Chabat (“Valerian”) and Bae Doona (“Sense8”), the film was penned by Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain (“Sisters Brothers”). Chabat stars as a prominent French chef [...]

  • Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE)

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Towers Over 'Dolittle,' '1917'

    Universal’s “Dolittle” and “1917” found out what “Bad Boys” will do when they come for you at the box office. Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” the third entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led series, beat expectations and towered over the competition during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. “Bad Boys for Life” earned [...]

  • Charlize Theron31st Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    Charlize Theron Says Megyn Kelly's 'Bombshell' Reaction Video Was 'Really Validating'

    Charlize Theron says it was “really emotional” to watch Megyn Kelly’s half-hour response video to “Bombshell,” the Oscar-nominated feature film that depicts the sexual harassment Kelly (as played by Theron) and several other women experienced from Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The video, which Kelly posted to her YouTube Channel on Jan. 9, shows Kelly, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    '1917,' 'Succession' Among Top PGA Award Winners

    “1917” continued its string of major awards season wins on Saturday night, earning the Producers Guild of America award for best picture. Coupled with its win for best picture, drama at the Golden Globes, the WWI movie is officially the front runner for Oscar’s top prize. “It’s a film that is a tribute to all [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho, Jane Rosenthal, David

    Netflix Praised by 'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Filmmakers at Producers Guild Panel

    Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. [...]

  • Gabriel Harel on MyFFF ‘The Night

    Gabriel Harel Discusses Dystopic Parable ‘The Night of the Plastic Bags’

    With his first short film, the animated “Yùl and the Snake,” Gabriel Harel won Europe’s Cartoon d’Or for the continent’s best animated short film, given at the 2016 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. Now, Harel’s awaited sophomore effort, the animated “The Night of the Plastic Bags,” competes at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, and is available on a swathe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content