Being prepared to localise content for international co-productions can often mean the difference between a deal or no deal, says Ben Barrett, managing director of Drive.

How to make shows stand out from the crowd is one of the biggest challenges facing producers, distributors and of course broadcasters these days in our increasingly fragmented content market.

When you specialise in raising co-production and pre-sale finance for TV shows as we do at Drive, that challenge is even greater. We need to be able to persuade buyers it makes sense to invest in a show early to secure it, which essentially often involves greater level of investment and risk than acquiring something 12 months later on the distribution market, but for the potential of greater reward.

In addition to the basic motivators to come in early on productions (which I like to refer to as TEA  -Talent, Exclusivity and Approach), identifying other ways of making content stand out and work for broadcasters is becoming more and more important, especially when you need to make a case for early investment.

The realities of content financing models means that, on the whole, broadcasters outside of the key funding markets of North America, the UK, Western Europe and Australia rely heavily on acquisition of content that was not produced with their viewers in mind.  Acquisitions can of course do a solid job, but what if there was a way for them to make content more relevant to their viewers without having to fully fund local commissions?

At Drive, we have found that we have been able to appeal to many of these channels recently by offering them localized content in exchange for their early commitment to the budget.  For the right type of show, which may involve a number of international locations, contributors, or just a universal subject matter, we’ve found that offering to bring these into focus within a show can add significant additional value to our clients, not just in terms of the content, but crucially how they are able to market the content as local, and original. 

Whether it be a reversion that brings local stories to the forefront, a localised script, or the creation of some bespoke marketing assets and support, a little extra thought and cooperation can justify worthwhile additional investment in a show through results it will deliver….and in this day and age, we find that this extra bit of creativity and effort can be the difference between deal, or no deal.

Ben Barrett

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