Planning your international TV distribution?

Naturally, I am often involved in assisting clients in defining their international TV distribution strategy. That is my bread-and-butter business. For starters, I am frequently asked what are the requirements to go international with a TV channel and what elements need to be considered. While, of course, every project and channel is somehow individual in its approach and considerations, I have nevertheless a list of questions and set of areas that need to be covered when developing an international TV distribution strategy. I am happy to share them with you here.

The initial key elements are Motivation & Commitment

The two single most important elements motivation and commitment are somehow also interrelated with each other. By motivation I mean what drives the management or owner of the channel to go international. I want to explore with the client usually first what the expectations are for an international expansion. For instance, is it about pursuing new markets for pay tv income or creating more eyeballs for advertising revenue? Alternatively, does the expansion work as a brand support & marketing strategy to actually leverage other parts of the business; for instance, Bloomberg Television is a giant marketing exercise to sell its famous Bloomberg terminal, which is the backbone of its business. And Red Bull is selling TV to support its lifestyle brand and image. Furthermore, an expansion can also further a certain cause, to which your channel might subscribe and which it wants to proliferate to a wider audience; this is most prominently the case with any spiritual or faith-based network, for instance.

When discussing your commitment I try to gauge the level of support that an international TV distribution has in the channel’s top management and with it’s owners. It is of outmost importance that the key shareholders and the executive team are completely behind an international expansion. It will require usually some good part of the channel’s resources, budget and management involvement over sometime long periods until international expansion pays off. Giving up after a few months or anytime less than 1-2 years on it, will only be a waste of time and money. Hence, I want to ensure that this is usually a long-term engagement and that the client is aware of this.

The other elements are:

  • What Resources are involved?
  • What are the regulatory and legal aspects to consider?
  • What Distribution Sales Structure, Marketing & PR is required

These are the main areas that need to be addressed initially and that you might want to discuss internally or with the help of experienced consultants. And this is the point where I need to do my sales pitch and highlight that my team and I have many, many years of expertise in these matters. I personally can help you to navigate through all aspects and pitfalls of an international TV distribution. Together we can make it happen or decide that it is better to not engage in such an endeveour. The international markets have lots of opportunities but at the same time can be extremely risky to enter. You want to be in good hands to explore it.

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