'We do not want to replace the Mipcoms and AFMs of this world,' says Moritz Viehweger, co-managing director of mediapeers, the new Berlin-based virtual film and TV market.
'Our goal is to complement the traditional rights business with a new form of promoting and licensing film and TV programming,' he explains.
Crucially, he hopes it will provide a more transparent way of doing business and will drastically lower transaction costs. 'At a market you often hear, 'Let me get back to you if we have the Dutch VoD rights available.' On mediapeers you see it immediately,' says Viehweger.
Around 100 buyers and sellers are registered on mediapeers, including Endemol, Sony BMG, Vivendi Mobile Entertainment, German broadcaster Sat.1, Spain's Telefonica, India's Star Enterprises, Singapore's Chinanimax and the US's Global Telemedia.
The inspiration for mediapeers came during Viehweger and co-managing director Holger Hendel's time working for an international consultancy helping telecommunication companies reinvent themselves as content providers.
'The rights market has been undergoing major changes in recent years,' explains Viehweger. 'Sales agents told us the situation has become so confused they often don't know who the relevant clients are.'
The mediapeers model of a secure online platform promises to offer a more structured and efficient way for rights holders and distributors to showcase programmes to buyers such as TV broadcasters, cable providers, publishing houses, internet service providers, Iptv channels and video-on-demand portals.
Viehweger admits the idea was a hard sell to potential backers so they financed the initial stages themselves. Last autumn, Deutsche Telekom's venture-capital arm T-Venture came on board as a financial and strategic partner, with a minority stake under 25%.
'It's a very simple business model consisting of four modules,' he says. 'The marketing module allows the rights holder to manage all information about their programming in a central place, while the one for sales enables sellers and buyers to conduct virtual negotiations via the platform.
'The payment module then handles billing and such issues as revenue share deals or withholding tax, and technical distribution looks after the delivery of materials to the buyer.'
Viehweger says the new venture can complement how business is done at physical markets. Catalogue titles, for example, would do better on the platform than a physical market where they do not get any attention.