This is part of two post around ethnic TV channel & content distribution. The first part explores the growing demand for ethnic TV channels and content. This second part here focuses on some of the obstacles around ethnic content distribution. 

The growing demand for ethnic TV channels & content – as explored in my previous post – has naturally awakened the interest of TV channel operators around the world. They are now looking into this opportunity and how they can exploit it. Many of them though face certain obstacles. I list them below with some suggestions on how to address these hurdles.

 1) Platform & Market Access:

This is most often the key element in any strategy to distribute your TV channel or content internationally and to reach the desired audience. There are a multitude of platforms in the market nowadays that cater specifically to ethnic and expatriate communities. It is a wise choice to work with an expert in entering this market. Distribution agents or experts such as us, have the expertise and market insight to select the platform that is right for your content; or we bring you in touch with platforms that require your content. It might also be worthwhile to explore if it is valuable for you, to launch your own platform. This is nevertheless a rather expensive undertaking and does indeed require know-how and sound advice. Often it is better to join an existing platform who has the technical and operational leverage to distribute your channel in a cost-effective and efficient way.

2) Copyright

Actually, this is the main reason why ethnic channel cannot enter foreign market. Often they purchase rights for their programming from other producers and only secure the copyright/ distribution right for their local home market. They do not include rights to re-distribute this content abroad; hence, shortcutting their income potential. Getting these extra copyrights is in most cases no too expensive and easily compensated with the income generated by foreign distribution. If it is to expensive to get all the channel copyrights, you still can play with distributing only parts of your channel or focus on VOD content distribution to start with.

3) Price Expectations

Next to copyright issues, many ethnic channels build their own obstacles to foreign distribution by expecting huge revenue streams and setting their price level way too high. Do not forget that in most cases, building your international distribution is a start-up exercise. You might need to invest first and not seeing a profit for the first 2-3 years. But at the same time, your costs are not very much higher than without international distribution: because your channel is already there in your local market and you broadcast it anyways. If you see international distribution as a source for incremental income you are much better off than anticipating too high a revenue. Again, consultants like us can help you to assess your pricing and cost structure; and we can set the proper fee structure for your channel or content.

4) Piracy and Free-To-Air distribution

These issues are in direct relation to No 2 and 3 above. If your channel is pirated a lot and widely available through illegal streaming platforms and if your channel is distributed free to air over your own streaming and / or satellite feed, it does decrease your chances to secure proper copyrights and a decent revenue. Ethnic channels are a prime target for content pirates and they basically damage your own market. At the same time, they are the proof that your content is in demand. Hence, it is in your interest to curb any piracy. You should also consider your free-to-air strategy. If you allow your signal to be freely available in markets where you can actually expect license income, you should maybe stop unencrypted distribution or satellite feeds at all. It might be worth to have experts like us involved, who can do a basic market assessment for you and explore the benefit & cost ratio of encrypting your channel and how to stop piracy.

5) Streaming & Signal Delivery

This brings us to the next hurdle, that we need to take when building your ethnic channel distribution. Typically the platform that is interested in certain ethnic content and the channel operator are located in very different geographies. Hence, the question arises how do you get your signal to the playout center of the platform. In same parts of the world, your satellite signal might reach to the relevant downlink location. But most often, it doesn’t. Here you should consider streaming your channel via IP delivery to the platform. Most platforms expressively prefer such delivery. Now it is up to the channel to explore how best to implement IP streaming. We work with experts on this matter and can help you to identify your exact needs and to implement solutions. It is usually not as expensive as you might think and can be resolved easily.

6) Staff & Know How

Here we come to a point that we incur day after day in our work. Only a fraction of the TV channels around the world have someone in their team who is really looking after foreign distribution. Often the market is considered as too small to bother with, often the company is afraid of making mistakes in that market, often it is just shear lack of know-how about foreign distribution. This all adds up to avoid foreign distribution – and then lack of proper language skills makes it even more difficult and unlikely to address that opportunity. This is exactly where you should contact people like us. We act as your extra resource for international distribution and can handle all aspects of it for you. Most often we also involve local people or translators to work along with you – so language should never be a hurdle.

Now, that you see that is all doable in getting your TV channel into the international marketplace – what is holding you back. Speak with us and we create a win-win situation for you, your channel or platform.