LIMA Licensing: Market velocity and dynamics discussed at House of Commons
With new content available at an ever-quicker pace companies are working against rapidly compressing deadlines to deliver products that once took months, even years to reach retail, industry executives said during LIMA’s annual seminar at House of Commons in London on the occasion of BLE 2017.
With the tighter delivery cycles driven by a constant flow of IP, some companies are shifting to a “mixed bag” of product offerings, with some designed to meet sudden upswings in demand via ecommerce and others destined to be exclusives at retailers, Fashion UK CEO Gurdev Mattu said. And content suppliers have moved from total focus on 22-minute TV episodes to a potpourri of lengths and formats for platforms ranging from YouTube to retailers’ in-store video networks, said Cartoon Network VP Peter Yoder.
“Agility is a key factor now as is finding partners that are a little bit more nimble to create something,” Yoder said. “Even the biggest of the big companies are starting to understand that you can’t take two years to create [product], and even industries like toys, which were slower to evolve, are starting to change. It is creating a much more condensed cycle from the time of development to actually hitting the shelves.”
The faster pace is resulting in ecommerce retailers gaining an expanded foothold and harkens back to the shifts that came when big box retailers – Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys R Us and others – began moving in on the turf of local and regional retail chains 20 years ago, said Buzzfeed’s Eric Karp.
“People are working in a more compressed cycle and there is some much more money in licensing now at retail so the issues of distribution will probably get solved much faster,” Karp said. “Right now everyone is sharing information in much shorter time frames than existed even a few years ago. I don’t think it is shifting dollars from bricks and mortar to ecommerce. Everyone is buying more so there more money to be made once it is all figured out. I think the doom and gloom [about brick and mortar] is somewhat misplaced.”
The changes are presenting both challenges and opportunities as licensees are being forced to seek out new content sources for products that may have been overlooked in the past, Finsbury Managing Director Lawrence Trist said.
“You have retailers in the UK desperately trying to find revenue streams beyond the traditional,” Trist said. “It is hard for them so they are always looking for something that is a bit more exciting and licensing can fill that void.”
The rise of the Internet hasn’t been without risks. A growing number of websites are offering user-generated products some of which aren’t licensed and must be policed regularly. But there is a “fine balance” that needs to be struck since licensors don’t want discourage fan engagement and creativity, BBC Licensing Director Rikesh Desai said.