As streaming services and direct-to-consumer offerings have grown, keeping a handle on content rights and windows is critical for programmers and content creators. While outdated technology and manual processes have made the path to monetization more difficult in the past, companies like Molten, founded in 2018 by MIT-grad Arjun Mendhi and backed by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, have emerged to help content owners better navigate the landscape. Denise Denson, a veteran programmer and former executive VP of global content distribution and strategy at Viacom, joined Molten as an adviser in 2019 and earlier this year became chief operating officer. She spoke with B+C senior content producer Mike Farrell about the evolving content business. An edited transcript follows.
Universal and AMC Entertainment just agreed to narrow theatrical-to-SVOD windows to 17 days from 75 days. Does that present opportunities for content players across the board? It’s a whole new level of complexity. Now, three weeks after release, they’re going to be fragmenting those rights and selling them. I look at the movie theaters as another SVOD opportunity for another niche window. They’ll have to compete with everyone else over time.
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With the emergence of streaming and direct-to-consumer, how is the content food chain changing? The emergence of streaming and direct-to-consumer has resulted in an accelerated market shift to new models which reflect consumer preferences for personalized video services and targeted, on-demand content. The new recipe for success is rooted in ubiquitous distribution across devices, formats, platforms, search-engines and territories.
How do you see this shaking out? I do think content will be sold to the highest bidder but this will just create the order of windowing. Today, a new show may launch on the branded channel or a streaming service. There will be content moving in and out of windows, trying to reach different audiences and maximize revenues. Ideally that will extend the revenue life cycle. That being said, the process of buying and selling content will need to modernize as well.
Is this especially relevant given that production on new shows is still shut down? Absolutely. Content demand has never been higher and content companies are sitting on an underutilized asset — their library — provided they know their licensing rights. Most companies use or sell less than 20% of the rights in their library. There is a huge opportunity to sell content on new platforms and territories.
Is there room for niche companies to eke out a business? I believe both big and small players can win. At the end of the day, quality of content will determine the winners. In some ways, smaller content companies may be more nimble and open to new distribution models which will be the key to growth. Provided companies evolve, the money will follow.
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