Kevin Crull’s new digital rights model for US shows

The new template offers all-platform rights during a four-week window, says the Bell Media president.

Bell Media president Kevin Crull flew to Hollywood last week for the Los Angeles screenings with more than US and Canadian prime-time schedules in his briefcase.

He carried a new business model for securing digital rights from US studio suppliers to keep Canadian eyeballs glued to popular CTV shows like The Amazing Race and American Idol, whether viewed on TV sets, online or mobile phones.

“We have a template that we worked on for several months with all the studios that offers all-platform rights during the catch-up window, which is the four-week window, or three or four episodes,” Crull told Playback Daily after returning from the Canadians’ annual Hollywood shopping expedition.

The digital rights formula, hammered out as CTV secured US program renewals over the last two months, includes key digital platforms like VOD, mobile and tablets.

Crull isn’t saying whether Bell Media got all it sought while negotiating digital rights for new and returning US network shows, to be unveiled at CTV’s upfront presentation to Canadian advertisers.

“I think that there’s…a trend change in that the studios fully acknowledge that their bread and butter partner is linear television,” he said. “They recognize that and they’re partnering with us and supporting our business needs.” 

The Bell Media topper adds that the broadcaster had few holes to fill for its fall 2011 campaign, so it dropped far fewer dollars last week in Los Angeles, compared to four or five years ago when top-rated CTV over-stocked its shelves to keep prized US network shows from Global Television and other competitors.

“We are way down from our peak. The peak was 2007-08. But we are slightly up from what we spent in the prior year,” Crull said of per-episode costs in Los Angeles last week.

He’s also optimistic about recouping the costs of the new US shows from advertisers after the Canadian upfront presentations conclude in early June.

“I have a lot of confidence in this upfront season about the firmness of pricing and volumes,” Crull said.

From Playback Daily