‘What’s the biggest challenge facing distributors in the current market?’

'What's the biggest challenge facing distributors in the current market?'
March 1, 2003

‘Broadcasters want Rolls Royces for the price of a Volkswagen.’

‘The fall of documentary programming blocks across the board on terrestrial television. From the U.K. to Japan to Germany, we are seeing the pendulum in programming swing to more radically commercial programming and less traditional non-fiction programming. We believe this is a trend, however, and the way to respond may be to work more in the reality genre, develop newer hybrid programming and continue to find truly compelling stories that consistently rate high.’

‘The lack of good product available to independent distributors who can’t financially compete with PLC distribs. Broadcasters not spending enough money on new programming and/or paying for new productions to be made.’

‘Finding the right topic for the right moment – the one that everybody will talk about in the next six months.’

‘Short-sighted and misguided corporate practices that range from ethically questionable payment schedules to unrealistic budget guidelines.’

‘To sell the same film to as many buyers as possible. We find ourselves more and more often preparing versions to fit into more markets. Not one style fits all, and cultural sensitivity is a growing concern (and it should be!!).’

‘The fragmentation of audiences, thus fragmenting the market. [We] have to make more deals with more partners to make the same revenues as five years ago.’

‘Low budgets, budgets, budgets…’

‘The present distribution system is a three-legged table waiting to fall. There is more product than the hole in the funnel will allow through. Eventually, a new model will be created by sheer mass of digital product.’

‘Formats, because they make original productions more difficult to sell and decrease the number of slots available on TV schedules for finished product.’

‘Everyone seems to be afraid. The ground is shifting under everyone’s feet and there seems to be less ad money all around. People are wanting more for less.’

‘Ludicrously low acquisition prices, due to market fragmentation and the devaluing of television as a high-quality medium.’

‘For cultural docs, fewer or shorter slots and much less money. Culture is relegated to thematic cable/digital channels with tiny budgets.’

‘A general and growing concern is to try to understand when rights overlap, i.e., territories, formats, platforms, TV and non-TV. Broadcasters don’t really know what to do with the rights they ask for (just in case, they want everything), and this can hamper the development of producers who can actually develop new property on new platforms without hurting the original platform, which most often is a TV station.’

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.