Do The Right(s) Thing — by Cheryl Clarke
The TV distribution market is a complex beast and a valuable one at that — worth £20bn annually, notably it lacks automation. And that’s been for good reason, the human factor of doing commercial business in a creative world is a prized asset and the people with most expertise in deal making and spotting a hit are not from an era of warp speed technological change — and prefer it that way. On a more cynical note, keeping it personal preserves the ability for people to make their cut out of the lack of transparency. But here we are, and if we don’t keep up with the advances technology brings, it will sprint right past us. So in a time of information overload and overkill, the need for transparency — along with communication, humanity and honesty — across all sectors and businesses has never been greater.
The globalisation of the content industry has been taking place at an alarming rate. In a mere 15 years, we’ve moved from a nice comfy linear world and a nice easy model — ‘get show, sell show, report, repeat’ — to a multi-layered, digital, cross-territory universe of ludicrous complexity. Managing contracts these days entails juggling up to 50 sets of interlinking rights. What people want in a world that’s difficult to understand is simplicity.
Currently it works like this; buyer and seller make contact, sometimes on the phone and sometimes in person using many wo(man) hours and resources to make that contact. They talk about a deal, go back to the office and try to articulate what they think was discussed or agreed in contract form. The seller manually checks availability of rights that a buyer wants (this can take some time, even with the rights management systems many distributors now have in house). The seller arranges access to screeners of the show and buyer and seller negotiate terms and final contracts are drawn up. There are two big problems in this scenario; deals take a long time, the back and forth and complexity of paperwork means that a single deal might take 6–12 months to complete and many deals never happen due to the simple logistics of physically setting your stall out and managing it.
Since the process is so labour intensive, sellers have to optimise their sales teams to concentrate on the highest value parts of the catalogue being sold to the richest buyers. The long tail of content often remains unsold regardless of whether there is demand. If you are a buyer from a smaller channel or a VOD platform, good luck getting attention of the major distributors — even if you’ve got a decent budget. The distributors are frequently too busy dealing with the paperwork from their big clients to respond to your email.
Automated licensing systems solve both problems and are a perfect use case for the blockchain. Deals can be done in minutes and entire catalogues can be easily bought and sold where previously they wouldn’t have seen the light of day. This simplicity in the face of complexity might just increase the possibility for creative commercial people to exercise more of the creative whilst the commerce takes care of itself. With LiveTree ADEPT, the platform takes this idea and moves it square in the middle of an entire system of funding, licensing and distribution, through Blossom TV and to a whole new era of simplicity. With a new tool for creators, big and small to test the market, access investment and license and choose options for distribution, a decentralised freedom for creative endeavour is very much in our grasps.
For those who’ve bought Seed and wonder how it will make money, this licensing model is key. Seed holders now have an opportunity to own a share in the licensing process around film and television and value is created from other people loving what you love. Seed has been created in a fixed quantity, so any unsold tokens will be removed from circulation in what is called a ‘buy back and depletion’ model. Stuff only has value if it’s scarce, like gold, so your Seed will become a larger part of a smaller pie. But how? It’s all about the fees which are paid in Seed — when something is created, funded or distributed, Seed is paid, increasing demand. The crucial understanding here though is that it makes no difference whether a project is deemed successful or not, the very transactions around any activity on the platform generate demand for Seed ensuring its value remains intact. This is about bringing together all interested parties on one platform, to provide efficiencies and win wins for the industry, fans and the creators. It all ties back to our values of transparency, fostering mutual benefit and getting great content on to screen.
This is a global platform that breaks down the walls that separate us — with a world that now understands it is interconnected, we need storytelling that reflects the needs we have now, plant this Seed and see it grow.