How TV Platform select TV Channels

When it comes to being successful as a TV channel or content producer, it is key to get your product distributed, of course. No TV Channel is worth its money if no-one can watch it. Hence, it is instrumental to get your TV channel not only on air but widely distributed.

Naturally, that is easier said than done. The distribution platforms of this world (MSO, DTH, IPTV, OTT, VOD, Mobile etc) are all swamped with proposal for Tv channels that they have to add to their bouquet. They can pretty much cherry-pick the channels and usually do so. It is a very competitive business.

So, you have done your homework and looked at what you need for going global with your channel and what type of distribution model to choose. Now is the time to hit the sales trail and approach platforms. It will help you though if you have a bit knowledge about the criteria that platforms usually apply when selecting new channels. To understand how TV channels are being selected by distribution platforms, I highlight three areas that they usually look at when assessing your channel proposal:

1. Having a solid financial background:

If you want to partner with a distribution platform for having your TV channel distributed with them, you have to provide information and proof on your financial stability. The platform will want to know that the channel has enough finance to survive the early year of losses, particularly, if it is not getting much in terms of carriage revenues. The platform might not only look on who is financing the venture and how solid these investors are but also if the network has potentially other sources of income next to license fees from the platform. It is hence important to meet these expectations by having solid, reliable investors on board, by demonstrating that you can tap into complementary revenue sources right from start and that you maybe have an existing business (other channels) that can cross-finance your new channel.

2. Targeting the right audience:

The distribution platform will only be interested in your proposal if the channel is likely to appeal in relation to other competitive offerings. It must also fill a well-defined niche – not necessarily with a big audience, but one that could still be attractive if addressing an audience that the platform is not reaching yet or eager to keep loyal. Platforms usually observe the trends in their markets very carefully and have good data on what their current subscriber want to watch and how they can attract new customers. In our Global Content Compass, we have for instance highlighted which genres they are looking for. The segment must be reasonably large though in terms of potential size of subscriber numbers and potential revenue. After all, your platform partner will invest in marketing and bandwidth – they have to consider opportunity costs for each channel and how they can generate the best possible revenue for each channel allocation. If your channel hits the sweet spot and matches the target audience, that they are after, your chances are higher to be selected – and it also improves your bargaining power.

3. The proposition must be future-proof:

Your channel proposal must be future-proof in terms of how the programming is produced and scheduled, what productions are offered and how to present the content. The overall look-and-feel must be of highest quality and the channel must showcase and demonstrate that they have proper content in sufficient supply. Furthermore the overall proposition must be scalable in terms of content and distribution. It means offering VOD services as well as additional technical features (e.g. broadband offerings, gadgets etc). The platforms wants to serve its subscribers more than just a TV channel nowadays. Many of them see themselves not only as a TV broadcasting platform but want to own additional business with their subscribers. So if you can show that your content is also great on VOD, that you have related activities on mobile, web etc, you will increase also the likelihood that they select you.

While these three criteria are important, the platform will look at more than that. Some might be very keen to see how much local content you have in your channel or how easily it could be localized. Others will very much look for a very cheap proposal. Technical considerations also play a role: how easily can they downlink or receive your channel? Will you also have all the legal rights to air the programme and for VOD.

Overall, as more unique and innovative your are with your channel and the better you are financed the better your probability to get a deal. But you must also be very patient. Platforms have very long waiting lines and selection processes. If you do your homework so and have all in place, you should get started immediately to hit the sales trail.

If you need support in developing your distribution strategy or if you as a platform need assistance in selecting the right content, do please, contact me. I can provide insight and knowledge to help you grow.

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