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May 2017


(Continued from Cover)

Managing Rights

are horror stories in which, after spending $10

million or so, content companies had to engage

some experts to revise the programs or scrap

them altogether and start anew.

In the past, the accounting departments took

care of rights management. And still nowadays

accounting commissions outside firms to devise

software to keep track of various rights before

sales contracts go to the legal departments.

At this point, sales, accounting and legal

wrangle about various rights definitions with

the buyers. It can get so complex that, at times,

studios’ regional sales offices create their own

systems just for their territories.

According to Paul Mardling, VP Strategy at

York, England-based Piksel, “The definition of

each right is reasonably clear at the high level,

however there is far too much complexity and

variation on the detailed rights contained in

each contract. Much of this is driven by the re-

packaging of rights to different providers in the

same territory for different distribution use cases

(e.g., ultraviolet-based streaming versus OTT


One simple way to contract sales would be for

the buyers to send their standard agreements, but

this solution is not practical for large distributors

and studios.

According to experts, the logical way to create

and administer a rights management system

would have the following departmental order:

Sales, Legal, Business Affairs and, finally,

Accounting. In between those departments,

large studios would include Shipping, IT and a

Specialized Rights unit. In smaller companies, a

few people take care of several of those jobs.

As indicated on the chart on page 38, there are

six basic windows (Cinematic, Video, Digital, Pay-

TV, Basic Cable and Free TV) and 14 sub-windows.

For example, the cinematic window contains

three main rights: Theatrical, Public Video and

Non-Theatrical. On the other hand, Digital can

consist of various rights: SVoD Affiliated and

SSVoD OTT, NVoD, FVoD / Catch Up, TVoD, PPV,

Electronic Rental, AVoD, Electronic Sell-Thru

(EST) and IPTV.

A good rights management system would

capture: Products, Rights, Media, Avails,

Proposals, Sales Orders, Windowing, Conflict

Checking, Contracts, Amendments, Asset

Management, Materials, Shipping, Delivery,





Accounting, Reports, Security.

According to Ryan Friscia, director of Finance

at Boom Media, “Some industry professionals

label EST and Electronic Rental as a video rights.

An example would be buying or renting a movie

on iTunes. Others (including myself) consider

this a Digital right. To me, Video is only the sale

or rental of hard goods.”

“But,” added Friscia, “the window order is

changing. Studios are now making a push to

condense the windows by releasing films on

digital platforms while still in the Cinematic

window, i.e., launch on a premium VoD platform

during the customary theatrical window. Plus,

all windows are shortening and crossing each

other. The catch up rights (basically the ability


To Piksel’s Mardling, “One of the issues we

see is that many online rights contracts require

reporting of the actual volumes of content

delivered [i.e., the number of episodes]. At

present there are no standards for how to get this

data back from the delivery systems back to the

rights management and finance systems. This

means that we have to do something different for

each customer often involving exporting to some

sort of flat file for manual processing.”

There is also confusion about streaming TV

services. For some U.S. studios, in terms of TV

rights, streaming means “replicating a linear

live event authenticated through a MVPD” and

it cannot be downloaded. As for services like

Netflix, they’re considered SVoD rights. Typical

examples are HBO Now (SVoD) and HBO Go


HBONOWis apaid streaming service that offers

instant and unlimited access to HBO programs

and movies. Unlike HBO Go, HBO NOW does

not require a cable or satellite TV subscription.

HBO NOW is only available in the U.S. HBO Go

is an authenticated SVoD service because it’s only

available with a cable subscription or through a

cable operator.

For Sasha Zivanovic, CEO of Nextologies

in Toronto, “There are really two types of

streaming: the first is streaming content over

an IPTV network, which is defined as a closed

network delivery mechanism not touching the

Internet. Or, content can be streamed over the

Internet and referred to as OTT.”

“Many people confuse IPTV as any Internet

television. This is not the case,” explained

Zivanovic. “If the originating data stream comes

from a private IP (Internet Protocol) address that

is not registered as a public IP address from the

governing bodies that manage IP addressing, it’s

safe to say that ‘stream’ is going over a private

network and is IPTV. If the originating stream is

coming from a public IP address then it is OTT

streaming,” he concluded.

to re-watch a TV broadcast at a later date) can

now apply to Pay, Basic and Free TV windows.

Also, Netflix completely ignores windows and

launches digital only or, at times, digital and

cinematic simultaneously. However, Netflix’s

cinematic exploitation is very limited; mainly

just for the purposes of qualifying for the various

awards, such as the Oscars.”

Friscia also pointed out that “the most difficult

window to keep track of is probably digital since

there are so many different variations. This

is now one of the main windows and a huge

revenue force. It also allows for high levels of

piracy. In fact, many entertainment companies

now use digital piracy data in order to evaluate

the marketplace. Companies can use various

services to access the illegal download data to see

who and where films and TV are most illegally

Ryan D. Friscia, director of Finance at BoomMedia

At this point, sales,

accounting and

legal wrangle about

various rights

definitions with the

buyers. It can get

so complex that,

at times, studios’

regional sales

offices create their

own systems just for

their territories.

(Continued on Page 38)

Paul Mardling, vice president of Strategy at Piksel