TCB rides rollercoaster with foreign-language factual
TCB Rights has undergone “rollercoaster” couple of months, with its former parent company Kew Media Group dissolving and being acquired by Australian producer-distributor Beyond International via its Ireland-based subsidiary Beyond Entertainment.
The recent departures of chief executive Paul Heaney and executive Dina Subhani following the sale are the latest developments in the fast-moving story.
Head of sales Simona Argenti says it is “a testament to the whole team that everyone has been working and powering through, with all the challenges of Covid and the Kew administration sagas”.
Despite major existential concerns, TCB has been operating a “business as usual” policy for these times. The coronavirus lockdown and subsequent cancellation of major distribution markets has not subdued its operations, with the company posting record sales of more than 400 hours in the first quarter of the year – a significant return for a sales house which boasts just shy of 3000 hours of factual programming in its catalogue.
During lockdown the company has bolstered its slate by acquiring finished content such as Lambent Productions’ The World’s Greatest Paintings, as well as moving from its historical position of working with English-language programming to ramping up its foreign-language content.
Undercut: Wooden Treasure, from Italian outfit GiUMa Produzioni, is something the company expects to “do well in the rest of Europe”.
With buyers scrabbling for content, TCB is entertaining “a lot of second window expectations” for the non-English-language programming on its slate. The pandemic has revealed the collegial side to buyers, with broadcasters collaborating to make sure they all have premium programming.
“All the broadcasters have been banding together to share local-language versions so they both can benefit,” she says.
“So, if there is a pay TV buyer for a show, it may take a shorter window or concede a second window to allow a free-to-air broadcaster to access the show as well,” she explains.
Argenti says broadcasters are more willing to give the rights to a second window during the coronavirus lockdown and are also coming together to share dubbed versions. Although this could see two broadcasters ending up airing the same show at the same time, some buyers are comfortable with this.
“All the dubbing studios are closed, and it’s been a challenge to board new content,” she adds. “Broadcasters are now more relaxed because they’re in need of content, and it’s in their interests to collaborate.”
TCB is also repackaging content, marketing their long-running series as viable daytime programming to clients. Sales meetings have taken place over Zoom and in person, where possible, with respect to social distancing rules. “We just wanted to keep momentum going,” explains Argenti.