2014 Playback Indie List: Going Glocal – Part 2


The 2014 edition of Playback’s annual Indie List survey showed that many of Canada’s top producers are using a global-local (glocal!) business model to expand revenue opportunities beyond domestic borders. In the second of two parts, Playback takes a closer look at the trends emerging from the survey, including an ongoing transition to digital platforms. 

Continued from Part 1…

The turning point for Canadian producers in 2013 also came as government money to finance homegrown product continues to dry up, given an increasingly cash-strapped CBC and risk-averse private broadcasters increasingly turning to local versions of global formats to fulfill Canadian content obligations.

Then there’s the emerging digital transition.

That has producers going beyond digital extensions of TV shows to fulfill CMF requirements to increasingly rolling out properties across multiple platforms where core demos are increasingly found.

Sean Buckley, executive producer of Buck Productions, has taken a less-is-more approach to the commercial side of his business, pivoting  in part from making 30-second TV commercials to also making digital spots and web series for major brands and agencies with the help of a digitally minded creative director.

The result is fewer TV spots made for agencies, but larger packages of content across a greater range of platforms.

“When we go in, it’s content creation. It’s a 30-second spot, but it’s never just that. We always look at how we can repurpose the content and use it in a multitude of ways,” Buckley explains.

That expanded output includes the MTV snowboarding show McMorris and McMorris, developed with Red Bull Media House, and Toilet, an indie film directed by Japanese director Naoko Ogigami, produced by Buck Productions and Japanese partner Paradise Café, and was financed by Toto, the maker of fancy Japanese toilets.

The digital disruption of the film and TV trade is evident to all, as Netflix Canada and cord-cutting has Rogers Communications buying up library content for its own over-the-top platform, and sophisticated algorithms replacing TV critics in setting audience tastes.

Expanding a producer’s digital footprint signals a radical break from past business models with TV series and content that transcend borders and generate the biggest buzz.

Halifax-based DHX Media in recent years built up its kids programming library with key purchases of Cookie Jar Entertainment, Teletubbies and more recently Epitome Pictures, maker of the Degrassi franchise.

That’s got the indie producer and distributor supplying Netflix, Amazon and other emerging digital platforms looking to build their subscriber bases with SVOD deals for family and kids titles, as well as overseas OTT services like Amazon’s European digital media subsidiary LOVEFILM and others.

DHX Media also boarded Google’s video streaming giant YouTube as a content partner with paid subscription channels DHX Kids, DHX Junior and DHX Retro. The early payback from around 200 million views of DHX Media content monthly is promising, says Steve Denure, president and COO.

“We’ve been relatively quiet about it, but it’s a growing part of our business, providing significant revenue,” he reports.

This article originally appeared in Playback‘s Summer 2014 print issue