Today, we announced that BlueJeans and RightsTrade are collaborating to transform the entertainment licensing experience. Here's a little background on how it all began...
Every November, the hotel bars of Santa Monica, California, welcome upwards of 7,000 entertainment executives from across the world. As one of the international industry’s major calendar events, the annual American Film Market is a space where entertainment professionals can share, buy, and sell the entertainment content that will light up our screens in the coming year.
Ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, however, make these large gatherings unfeasible for the time being. That’s why this year, we’ve seen the first Virtual Cannes. We’ve watched Toronto Film Festival go digital. And now, with the American Film Market announcing AFM Online 2020 as a COVID-safe replacement for the Santa Monica event, we can safely say digital transformation has come to Hollywood.
But how can participants at these festivals mingle, network, and sign deals without attending screenings? Well, just ask RightsTrade, the premier sponsor of AFM Online 2020 and the world’s leading online film and television rights marketplace. Partnering with BlueJeans, RightsTrade has spent this year revolutionizing the entertainment industry, one virtual film festival at a time.
Entertainment made efficient
Even before COVID-19 made headlines, many entertainment executives wondered why their industry still relied so heavily on international travel and in-person meetings. “Everything else was online,” says Bill Lischak, CEO of RightsTrade. “So why wasn’t this?”
That question led to the birth of RightsTrade, according to Lischak. By creating a digital platform for entertainment licensing, RightsTrade makes it faster, easier, and more cost-effective for its 29,000 users from more than 125 countries to buy and sell content rights.
While many broadcasters and distributors still relied heavily on in-person festivals and conventions such as Cannes and the American Film Market, online alternatives like RightsTrade were already gathering traction before the pandemic broke out.
“As travel became more expensive, the industry was moving in the digital direction anyway,” says Lischak. “There was already a strong demand for a newer, more efficient model.” But come COVID-19, that need became much more urgent.
Licensing in lockdown
The pandemic saw film and television markets across the world canceled or postponed. Yet broadcasters still needed to acquire content, distributors still needed to sell it, and the viewing public still wanted to watch it. What the industry’s professionals needed was a way to connect, share assets, and negotiate that didn’t involve in-person contact.
In the kernel of that problem, RightsTrade saw an opportunity to do more. The platform had already seen a threefold increase in buyer activity when social distancing restrictions first came into effect. But what if it could be used to recreate not just the licensing of content, but the entire film festival experience, from watching screeners to signing deals?
“We wanted to mimic the in-person experience as closely as possible,” says Lischak. “Which meant giving users the power to share high-quality video as easily as they could do in person. And after doing some research, we realized that BlueJeans was perfectly suited for that.”
A surprisingly simple solution
Teaming up with BlueJeans, RightsTrade integrated videoconferencing into its core offering, which now enables users to share and view video assets within calls. The company combined this video capability with its users’ calendars, messages, and self-service content hub. It also integrated DealWizard and Docusign to create a one-stop platform for executives to conduct every step of the rights trading process, from previewing a screener to signing on the dotted line.
“We initially thought we’d have to do quite a lot of in-house software development,” says Lischak. “But the open BlueJeans API actually lent itself very well to what we needed to do, so we ended up using it virtually out of the box.”
Being deployed in festivals from Virtual Cannes to FILMART in Hong Kong, the RightsTrade platform has been a smashing success. “We were able to offer a user-friendly experience even to people who are allergic to tech,” says Joanna Syiek, Marketing Director at RightsTrade. “And one of the most common comments we got from sellers using BlueJeans during Virtual Cannes was how great the quality of video was.”
What’s next for entertainment?
“Film markets shouldn’t be expensive, inefficient, and slow,” says Lischak. “They should be year-round and on-demand, like everything else.” And thanks to RightsTrade’s pioneering work, that’s exactly what they’re becoming.
Lischak and Syiek couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming AFM 2020 Online event, where RightsTrade will host the main exhibit hub. In this virtual space, buyers and sellers will use RightsTrade’s comprehensive platform to share, negotiate, and license content from all over the world, in the safety of their own homes.
“The AFM is one of the crown jewels of film markets,” says Lischak. “And we couldn’t be more pleased to support the industry at this year’s event.”