NBC Selects SIPA to Expand Distribution

Posted on 1/12/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

NBC Universal of Burbank, Calif., has selected Paris-based SIPA Press to become the main international distribution partner for NBCU’s archival television images.

In July 2006, NBCU became the first major studio to manage and market its photography by creating the NBC Universal Photo Bank. This library currently represents over 15 million digital and analog photographs dating back to the 1920s. The collection’s assets include publicity and advertising stills that support NBC entertainment, news and sports programming along with images from NBC cable properties, such as USA Network, Oxygen, Bravo, SciFi Channel and others.

NBCU, 80% of which is owned by General Electric and 20% by Vivendi Universal Entertainment, continues to be the bright spot of its automotive parent’s financials. For the first nine months of 2008, NBCU grew revenue and profit by a respective 15% and 4%. However, the company sees the broadcast television industry potentially facing similar issues as automakers and newspapers in the short term. Preparing for this anticipated downturn, NBC has cut 500 jobs and took a harder look at the costs of original programming.

Judging by the home page of the NBC Universal Photo Bank and its deal with SIPA,

The new NBCU image-licensing business has not remained unscathed during this reexamination of spending. A notice on the home page of the NBC Universal Photo Bank reads: “NBCU Photo Banks has recently experienced organizational changes that will affect our traditional distribution practices.” Though the notice promises improvements, including e-commerce functionality and subscription-based licensing, it asks customers for patience.

The SIPA deal suggests that NBCU is currently working on options other than direct investment into the image-licensing business. In current economic conditions, it makes more sense to structure profit-sharing arrangements with a more experienced partner than to invest into new products and staff to support them.

SIPA, a leading independent French photo-press agency, covers the world’s politics, conflicts, economics and entertainment. It employs 27 photographers and has a network of over 600 correspondents and exclusive distribution agreements with the Associated Press and the European Press Agency. SIPA generates close to 2,000 daily and distributes them in 40 countries. It employs over 100 in its Paris headquarters and also runs a New York operation. Jonathan Wells, bureau chief of SIPA Press in New York, announced the NBCU deal with Ray Slay, senior vice president, NBC Universal photography and new media.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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