Lionsgate has become the first U.S. studio to put some of its movies up for sale on online rights-trading platform TRX, which is moving into film after having established itself with television content.
The platform allows buyers to view content and hold negotiations directly with sellers. The content owners pay a subscription fee to place their offerings on the service, a shift from the earlier TRX model whereby the platform took a commission. TRX chairman David Frank said the platform has now been optimized for film.
“Our focus has been around TV content, but we’ve always had in mind, and have been doing the work to move into, two adjacent areas: movies and live events,” said Frank, who founded the business with his brother, company CEO Matthew Frank. “The rationale is that selling IP, whether it’s a movie, a sports event, or a TV drama, involves fundamentally the same processes.”
Lionsgate has placed about 35 movie titles, as well as hundreds of hours of TV, onto TRX. David Frank said discussions are under way with several other U.S. studios.
“With movies, where we will start is with things out of their first or second cycles and that are sitting in a library and not being fully exploited,” Frank said.
TRX’s move into film mirrors its initial launch into television, which saw TRX initially market the platform as a way for TV distribution firms to make money on their catalogs. But with the likes of All3Media, BBC Worldwide, Beta Film and Sky Vision now selling content on the platform, its use has extended beyond selling older programming.
The TRX news has the rare distinction of being a Cannes technology story that does not involve blockchain. Others, such as Singapore-based AllRites, are also rolling out platforms that allow buyers and sellers to do business outside of traditional markets. That could hurt markets such as April’s annual MipTV market, which this year was thin on attendance, but TRX is adamant that buyers and sellers will still need to interact and have face-to-face meetings at the markets.
The Frank brothers are well-known in international TV circles, having set up RDF and subsequently gone on to run European production and distribution giant Zodiak (now Banijay). They launched TRX three years ago; it went live last year. Pay-TV giant Sky and British pubcaster Channel 4 have since invested in the service. Andrea Wong, an alum of ABC and Sony, and John McVay, chief of British indie TV and film producer trade body PACT, are on the board.
“There will be one day a preeminent marketplace through which all content is traded and registered, whether it’s TV or movies, akin to a big stock exchange for content,” Frank said. “We’re on the baby steps towards that, and that’s why it makes sense to embrace movies and sports rights” in addition to TV.