Behind Vuulr's Mission to Connect Buyers and Sellers of Content Rights

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Behind Vuulr’s Mission to Connect Buyers and Sellers of Content Rights Online (Exclusive)

The online content marketplace — where deals take an average of 10.5 days to complete — just unveiled a new tool to help distributors feature their shows or movies

Vuulr is doubling down on its mission to connect buyers and sellers of film and TV rights, TheWrap has exclusively learned, with the online content marketplace on Wednesday unveiling a new, free feature that makes it easier to highlight shows and movies on its platform.

The Los Angeles-based company (pronounced view-ler) has just launched “Brandable Screening Rooms,” allowing studios, distributors, and indie producers to feature their content in their own digital screening rooms — complete with logos, company descriptions and URLs — that make it easier to promote their work. Brandable Screening Rooms will hit the ground running, with more than 1,110 films and TV shows from more than 250 rights holders already using the feature at launch — including Gaumont, Legendary Television, One Animation and Vision Film, among others.

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The feature looks to build on Vuulr’s goal of streamlining the film buying and selling process, Thomas Hughes, Vuulr’s CEO of Americas, told TheWrap.

“We are so focused on hammering the inefficiencies out of this process,” Hughes said. “This is just a natural next step.”

For those unfamiliar with the company, Vuulr launched in early 2019, aiming to trim as much fat from the deal-making process as possible. The framework is simple enough: Vuulr allows approved content sellers to post their shows or movies to the site for free, while also allowing approved buyers to scan its content library for free. All deals are negotiated online, with buyers able to watch screeners and immediately make acquisition offers; when a match is made, Vuulr gets a small cut.

Hughes added that with more than 20,000 titles now under Vuulr’s umbrella, Branded Screening Rooms offer a great way for distributors to showcase their companies in a distinct way.

What Vuulr brings to the table is especially important right now, Hughes said, at a time when the pandemic has effectively shut down the usual film buying process.

“The industry can’t do face-to-face screenings, and we don’t know when that’s going to change,” Hughes said. “Rather than shipping DVDs or a hard drive and then having to retrieve them — all of those things are full of friction and logistical problems. We want to take all of that away, and put a tool in the hands of the seller, and tools at the fingertips of the buyer, so that they can watch the content and make faster purchase decisions.”

Thomas Hughes, longtime Hollywood executive and current Vuulr CEO of Americas

Hughes joined Vuulr at the start of 2021. An industry veteran, Hughes previously worked at Lionsgate for nine years before leaving the company in 2019 after serving as the studio’s EVP of worldwide distribution. Before that, he was in charge of worldwide digital media at MGM. His professional background, Hughes said, made it clear how difficult and time-consuming the deal-making process can be in Hollywood — which only made Vuulr more appealing when the two sides initially touched base in late 2020.

What ultimately got him to join, though, was the company’s early success in bringing buyers and sellers together. Hughes said Vuulr closed 1,200 deals in 2020, as the pandemic halted traditional dealmaking methods and “supercharged” the demand for alternative ways to discover and acquire new content.

“[Negotiating] on a platform, back and forth, seamlessly in a matter of days,” Hughes said, has proven to be more efficient than “what I can tell you historically, in my time at studios, can take weeks, months, up to a year to get a deal done between two large entities. Our average deals close, from inception to [when an agreement is reached], in about 10 and a half days.”

As Vuulr pushes further into 2021, the company is focused on reducing the time between content discovery and when a deal is made — while also looking to expand the overall amount of deals it facilitates.

Sean Burch