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Valuing, planning and managing content business commerce.

Cashing in on your catalogue

FAST channels are providing new opportunities to rights owners with libraries of programming they are unable to exploit on TVoD or SVoD, says Dutch content services provider ODMedia Group.

Sjef Pijnenburg

A sub-section of TV programming has emerged that’s not popular enough to be sold via transactional VoD (TVoD) or offered via a subscription VoD (SVoD) service but can nevertheless sit on an ad-supported VoD (AVoD) channel and attract a steady stream of viewers, and revenue.

Such shows might even hold enough appeal to become the focus of their own free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel, like Baywatch or Kitchen Nightmares.

Many distributors have hours of this kind of programming gathering metaphorical dust in their libraries but which could be earning them money, according to Sjef Pijnenburg, founder and CEO of Dutch content services provider ODMedia Group.

Pijnenburg established ODMedia in 2004, back when the world ‘digital’ at events like Mipcom was “almost blasphemy.” But he is happy to note that the past two decades have seen attitudes “completely changed.”

Far from being the technology that was going to steal producers’ dinner, digital has grown into one of the most reliable ways for them to put food on the table, as revenues from streaming continue to rise.

Utrecht-based ODMedia has strategic partnerships with all the global VoD platforms and offers a full range of technical-delivery services, from acting as an aggregator for the major platforms to providing digital rights management, monetisation, target audience development and cross-promotion.

It also manages linear and non-linear channel playout (the process by which content makes it on to screens) for SVoD, AVoD and TVoD, and works on subtitling – a booming area as the popularity of dubbing continues to slide – plus VoD artwork creation that can prove the difference between someone choosing to watch something or continuing to scroll through the library.

William Linders

Pijnenburg calls it a “full ecosystem of services” to help rights holders get access to global platforms, with the company mantra being “reach a global audience and maximise your revenue.”

“It’s a shame that there are a lot of rights holders with global rights who only sell their content into 10 countries. Why not be open to all the opportunities in the countries you haven’t sold to? If you’re not selling to Vietnam, why not put it on YouTube? It’s a way of thinking that needs to change,” says Pijnenburg.

ODMedia has been awarded preferred partner status by Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and Netflix and also works with platforms including Roku, Paramount+, Tubi, Viaplay, Rakuten, Pluto TV, Disney+, HBO Max and SkyShowtime.

The company’s clients include major studios, independents, IP owners, broadcasters and producers, with Pijnenburg using The Smurfs brand owner IMPS as an example of one of its working relationships.

“IMPS do most of the sales themselves, but everyone always has some challenges they might need help with. So we’re its global partner for tech but we also assist them in getting more AVoD deals for their older series,” says Pijnenburg.

ODMedia operates a revenue-share model. The revenues differ by title on AVoD and Pijnenburg says ODMedia takes a bigger cut in cases where it also works across copyright protection and monetisation.

ODMedia has also begun operating FAST channels of its own on platforms such as Samsung TV Plus, focusing on audiences looking for children’s content and comedy programming. MojiTV, the channel aimed at kids that streams titles including Peter Rabbit, Care Bears and The Smurfs, has launched in the Netherlands in Dutch but has global, English-language ambitions.

This is creating new revenue possibilities for clients with control over their IP, says Pijnenburg. “It’s probably a bit early to tell what works best on FAST, but there’s an appetite for niches and kids’ content,” he adds.

MojiTV streams titles including The Smurfs

“What FAST does in general is it opens up opportunities for huge content libraries that were maybe not enough for an SVoD sale. In FAST, everything can be available, so there’s going to be a huge explosion in content availability,” says William Linders, who joined ODMedia in 2019 as partner and chief commercial officer.

Prior to ODMedia, Linders held a number of senior management roles at companies including KPN, Endemol International and VodafoneZiggo, where he was responsible for content and programming, including distribution deals with channels and major studios.

A recent development as US-based streamers have become more embedded in international markets has seen ODMedia work on their behalf to acquire a certain quota of content in regions such as Europe, where it has observed a surge in demand for subtitled programming rather than dubbed in countries such as France and Germany.

“Dubbing is far more expensive than subtitling. More and more companies in the AVoD space will forget about dubbing as they want to minimise risk and avoid financial hurdles,” says Pijnenburg.

With a HQ in the Netherlands and sales representatives in Spain, the Nordics, Germany, UK, France, Poland, Belgium, MENA and South Africa to target local rights holders, Pijnenburg says ODMedia’s prime focus for the time being is Europe and Africa.

“We have clients in the US, Canada and some from Asia, but as a company we’re becoming dominant in Europe and we’re getting really good traction in Africa as Amazon and Netflix are investing heavily there,” he says.

With the likes of Disney+, HBO Max and SkyShowtime all looking to acquire programming in these markets as they continue to battle for subscribers, Linders says: “The game is only just beginning, so there are interesting times ahead.”