TCB Media Rights’ Paul Heaney
By Mansha Daswani
As the factual-distribution business faces the same industry shifts that are taking place in other segments of the content landscape, rights holders are being forced to evolve. The journey of TCB Media Rights speaks to the broader trends in the market. The venture was established by Paul Heaney in 2012 and has steadily built up an extensive catalog across history, science, crime, travel, medical, nature and more, working with leading producers in the U.K. and North America. Heaney leads TCB as CEO within Kew Media Group, which acquired the company in 2017. He tells TV Real Weekly about how TCB has broadened its scope of activities to meet the new and ever-changing needs of the market.
TV REAL: How are you working with producers, early in the process, to make sure you have a show that you can sell?
HEANEY: We just treat it as if we have a shopping list—without being too prescriptive. If you're too prescriptive, you end up getting something that is made by numbers. We've got to allow the producers to have their natural creative bent. We try to work with producers who we know are well recognized and have integrity with the broadcasters and the SVOD platforms. We brief the hell out of the producers and bug the hell out of the broadcasters to make sure we're getting a detailed brief. We're very close to the channels. We're always reiterating and rechecking and reaching a level of trust and trying to work with them as closely as we can to make sure that when we're handing out a brief, it's not too detailed and it's going to work not just for one channel but for a few of them. In the fields of access ob-docs or engineering or transactional or true crime or science or renovation or food, whatever it is, we have to make sure we're not randomly just throwing words around. We're a bit more circumspect. We have an acquisition team and a commissioning team, so [our strategy is] well backed up. We have to make sure we're not as random as we were in the very beginning. And we're making sure that square pegs fit in square holes in terms of ideas.
At the same time, I love that you can have a cross-pollination of creativity. One of the shows we launched at MIPCOM was How Did They Build That?, an engineering series. We gave the brief to Curve Media. We've worked with them before. They're highly thought of in the U.K. and around the world. They've got a lot of talent in fact-ent areas as well. The engineering genre is well served, but if we can bring in a talented indie who can deliver on time, who has tons of integrity, loads of creativity, and has a bit of cross-pollination of ideas from other genres, that surely can only be a good thing. It moves the genre on a bit.
TV REAL: Do you have a lot of first-look deals with producers, or do you tend to work more with creatives on a project-by-project basis?
HEANEY: It's a bit of both. With official first-look deals, I’m generally less keen—we go into them with some trepidation because you can get a lot of antipathy. I'm not saying our relationships are like this, but historically if you go into one, the producer thinks, “I need to get a load of ideas going; otherwise, they won't want to keep my first look going.” And a distributor thinks, “Come on producer, where are all those ideas we paid for?” It suddenly changes what was a level playing field into something different. It can actually spoil a relationship rather than make it successful.
This interview continues here.
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