27 OCT 2023

Ruth Berry: “Buyers Have Moved Towards A ‘Single Buy’ Mentality”

The Managing Director of Global Distribution and Global Entertainment at ITV Studios, describes the opportunities of having these two businesses together and analyzes why clients lean to acquire content from “one-stop shops.”

27 OCT 2023

Ruth Berry

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At the beginning of this year, Ruth Berry, who until then held the role of Managing Director of Global Distribution at ITV Studios, was promoted to lead both of the company’s global commercial divisions. According to the company, bringing together Global Distribution and Global Entertainment under a single leadership team, led by Berry, enables ITV Studios to align more closely with buyers. “Bringing the two businesses together is a great opportunity. We got the finished programming and the formats side of the business into one place, which allows us to do several things. The market has changed a lot in the last years, and I think consolidation means there are fewer buyers. Ultimately, by having our portfolio into one place, hopefully we can fulfill these clients’ needs. I think our buyers have moved towards a ‘single buy’ mentality. They are really looking at how they can acquire more content from ‘one-stop shops,’ and I am really happy to solve all their problems at one go,” Berry told Señal News.

In her new position, Berry leads the distribution and monetization of a catalog of more than 90.000 hours, with 285 unique formats which includes hit titles “Love Island,” “My Mum Your Dad,” “Maternal,” “The Voice” and “Line of Duty.” During a decade with ITV Studios, she has overseen the transformation of predominantly English-language content sales (with a factual specialism), to a global distributor of world-class English and European language drama, alongside an enviable portfolio of high quality non-scripted titles. “Most players are largely moving from linear to non-linear. With the new structure, which is organized in a regional basis, we can really delve into where the regional audiences are, what are their needs and which are the local trends, as they are very different regarding the territory. Therefore, I think it is about trying to find the best way to understand clients and how we can sell our content to them, while positioning ourselves more meaningfully,” Berry analyzed.

In this transition from linear to non-linear many players are experiencing, Berry believes the two worlds are now more intertwined than ever. As an example, she mentioned ITV’s very own streaming service, ITVX, an ad-supported video-on-demand streaming offer that has reached two billion streams since launch. “ITVX has been really successful, but that is also thanks to our ability to work both in streaming and linear,” she assured.“Linear still can deliver mass audiences in a way no other media can. Advertisers cannot reach 4 or 5 million people live in any other medium, so linear still is really important. Nevertheless, what it is also really important is being able to capture people who view content differently,” Berry commented.

Regarding genres, the executive recognizes a greater appetite for dramas, although she also finds a lot of potential in the unscripted side. “Drama has become quite expensive, so clients are testing more non-scripted titles and seeing how that works for them. I think that most of the streaming business has been built around drama, not unscripted programming, so there is still the question around what the appetite of streaming subscribers is to view non-scripted content,” Berry mentioned. “What is becoming quite interesting as well is the relationship between long and short form programming, particularly around brands. We see short form and social media being used to bring people back into the long form shows. There is a bit of an ecosystem, so we need to evolve in that space as well,” Berry concluded.

By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Marzullo