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News  » Short-form sales gat...

Short-form sales gather pace

8 March 2018

Snackable content is being reversioned into long-form shows to bolster international sales

Distributors and digital studios are repackaging short-form content into long-form formats to secure sales across international markets.

Producers and sellers are increasingly applying a ‘fluid approach’ around content sales to global OTT platforms and broadcasters in order to exploit the nascent commissioning market.

Barcroft Media is among those reversioning its short-form offerings. Titles including Born Different, Ridiculous Rides, Beast Buddies and Hooked On The Look are being edited into 10 x 30-minute series that are being sold globally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

“It is something I am keen to lean into harder,” founder Sam Barcroft told Broadcast. “We are talking with a number of other distributors about similar deals. “There is a bit of a drought for distributors in terms of fresh titles, so I expect there will be much more experimentation with form.”

Peter Cowley’s multiplatform indie Spirit Media is taking the same approach with Trigger Happy, its 11 x 8-minute hidden-camera show for All 4.

The Dom Joly-fronted programme, which has run for two series on Channel 4’s on-demand platform, has been re-edited into a 6 x 30-minute show that is being offered to international buyers at next month’s MipTV market by Kew Media Group, formerly known as Content Media.

Cowley, former managing director for digital media at Endemol UK, said that while the eight-year-old business has scored plenty of short- and long-form commissions in the UK, “to resell Trigger Happy to a broadcaster, we feel we need to repackage it”.

“There may be a small appetite for digital clips, but I think there is a much better chance for success by selling it as a TV show – and probably more money too,” he said.

He predicted that a market will start to emerge for short-form programming because “broadcasters understand that audience behaviour is changing”.

“Snackable, shorter content is working,” said Cowley, highlighting that unscripted programming is well-positioned to succeed.

“The top entertainment formats on TV, like First Dates and Gogglebox, are all smaller, short-form stories that are pulled together to make up longer programmes. Broadcasters are trying to mimic younger audiences’ behaviour.”

Distribution dollars

Boutique seller TVF International has spent two years building a short-form catalogue of hundreds of hours that is “rapidly expanding in scope”. Around half of the distributor’s short-form sales are to digital platforms and telcos. The remainder are to broadcasters, which use the content for interstitials or stitch it together into longform programmes themselves.

Discovery India recently bought a number of instructional cooking, fitness, beauty, home-improvement and crafting shorts created by Singaporean producer Brand New Media, which it edited into an hour-long programme.

TVF division head Harriet Armston-Clarke said flexibility is one of the key benefits of short-form programming.

“That’s the ease of short-form – you can put loads of them back to back. Discovery India returned for a second package of instructional food videos because the format is really working for it.

“Short-form started as a bit of an experiment but has proven to be a very worthwhile part of our business that is accounting for sales across almost every territory and a variety of channels, platforms and telcos.”

Hot territories for TVF include Africa, India and the Middle East. “Areas where people are consuming more on mobile,” said Armston-Clarke. “We’ve got a lot of interest from mobile and telcos in the whole gamut of our short-form catalogue, and that’s a new thing.”

Short-form comprises a fraction of the catalogue of Troy: Fall Of A City distributor Endemol Shine International (ESI), but family titles like Endemol Shine indie Tiger Aspect’s 104 x 11-minute animated series Mr. Bean and 101 x 3-minute Simon’s Cat have proved extremely lucrative.

“Mr. Bean sells everywhere,” said ESI boss Cathy Payne. “It sells to linear, free-to-air and pay-TV, and does a lot of business on AVoD, where we get revenue share.”

However, Payne warned that the economics around short-form are still not ideal, and lag far behind traditional long-form content, which is far easier to sell.

“People who are setting up businesses to produce short-form content need to get a lot of material to build up the same level of business as a long-form producer,” she said.

From Broadcast

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