Distribution deals tend to confuse and confound many filmmakers. While there are a lot of complicated places that revenue can get lost, the essence of distribution deals is quite simple. They’re essentially just parsing of different media rights to various territories around the world. However given the Black Box that is the world film distribution, it’s often unclear how these rights get structured. So with that, I thought it prudent to share some of the structure of these deals.
Generally, these rights are broken up both by territory and by type. This post is by type, there will be a future post based on territory. Generally, you’ll need a very skilled Producer's Rep or a sales agent to sell these territories for you. Click here to find out the difference between those two.
Type 1: Theatrical
This should be fairly clear. Theatrical rights are for the rights to release in theaters. Again, this is usually done by territory. Producer’s Reps may help with this domestically, but you will generally need a sales agent to sell it internationally. You’ll also need a genre film with some good cast to get this out there.
Type 2: Home Video/DVD/Blu-Ray
Believe it or not, there is still a market for DVD and Blu-ray. A lot of it is international, but there are still major retailers like Wal-Mart, target, and occasionally Redbox. These are as they sound, and are most often sold to a sales agent who then sells them to wholesalers. There are also outlets that can help you self-distribute those rights, Ingram Entertainment will even allow you to sell to stores.
Type 3. PayTV
Type 4. Cable/Network TV
As it would sound, Cable TV is for non-PayTV rights, and Network is for the major “Over the air” networks. These would be ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS. Cable TV channels are very similar to Network TV but are more restricted in terms of content. That said, they are still often subject to some degree of censorship in the case of R- Rated movies, and are slightly less likely to seek SVOD rights, although many of them will still take that right.
Type 5. VOD
VOD stands for Video On Demand. There’s more than one type of Video on Demand Service, and each type has different providers. Here’s a very brief outline of what the different types of VOD are, and some samples as to the people who provide that service.
Subscription Video on Demand – [SVOD] is for VOD platforms that run on a subscription basis. This would be platforms like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Fandor, as well as extensions of PayTV and regular TV channels as mentioned above.
These are primarily independent ancillary VOD platforms. Ever order a film on the back of your seat on Virgin America or Atlantic? You just took part in an ESPVOD platform. Hotel Rights would also be considered under ancillary VOD rights.
Cable TV Producers often have their own PPVOD channels. These would be the ways that people could order a movie straight from your DirectTV or Xfinity TV platform. Generally, these would also be considered ESPVOD rights.
That said, sometimes there is some contention on these rights. Sometimes they’ll just be included in PPVOD rights, it’s important to clarify.
Knowing the distribution right types is great, but it's far from all you need to know to be a successful executive producer. That's why I offer my Executive Producer Expressway Program. It teaches you everything you need to know about packaging your independent film, Film Financing and how to film investors for your film, marketing your independent film, and finally how to get distribution for your film, and how to tell if an independent film distribution deal is good, and good places to negotiate with sales agents and distributors. All of this starts with your FREE Strategy Session. In the session we help you figure out where you are, and how to get you where you want to go. Book yours today!
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My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of PRoducer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.
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